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TELEVIZION No. 24/2011/E

Children’s television and beyond


EDITORIAL
Children’s television is more than just a programme. In a way this has been the case right from the start, with magazines, books, trading cards, and plush toys based on programmes reaching out beyond the TV screen, into the everyday lives of children and families. This, however, is nothing compared to today’s dimensions in which “360 degree media products” beyond children’s television enter the market. Right from the start, formats are conceived not just as programmes but also as films, magazines, computer games, and virtual worlds for iPods, and when characters are being created their potential for placement on T-shirts, lunchboxes, school exercise books, etc. is a key consideration. Children have embraced this, and make use of those elements, which are “beyond children’s TV”, insofar as they suit their interests. A consumer culture has emerged in which children use licensed products for self-definition and communication (Ekström). According to this logic, programmes are brands, supplied and used across a range of different media. We need to understand and stabilise them in their core (Herbst) and their utility value (Götz). At the same time, this is a double-edged sword; the calculated way in which programmes are conceived with a view to license-related profit right from the beginning is anything but innocent and oriented towards the children’s interests. Children’s enthusiasm is being used here to make a great deal of money (Vridstoft).
At the same time, quality television cannot and must not close its eyes to these developments, since they are based on children’s and families’ desires to make those elements which are particularly significant for them part of their everyday life (Cada/Götz). Children want to use what they gain from the brands in a way that is more interactive and does not depend on the timeslot in which the programme is broadcast. It is therefore important to find ways to offer attractive and innovative online services (Childs).
Here, quality means catering to children’s abilities with online services (Warth/Schneider) but also continuing to look at this use in a critical and self-reflecting way (Lovato). Children’s television has to move with the times, and has to be as open as its target group in terms of technology and content. That means recognising new opportunities, e.g. those offered by broadcasters over the Internet (Bult), discovering the best programming for the target group, or making creative use of new technological possibilities such as stereoscopic 3D (Pfanz). This calls for a willingness to experiment, not just on the part of children, but also on the part of producers
(J.J. Johnson). In the final analysis, it is up to us to decide what we want to offer the next generations.

Maya Götz
Head of the International Central Institute for Youth and Educational Television

 

RESEARCH

Karin M. Ekström
On the “catwalk of consumption”

In a consumer culture children can choose between lots of different offers. There is more behind it than just a mere marketing strategy: people express their own identity and manage relationships through their consumer behaviour.

Julia Cada/Maya Götz
“Look, Bob was also able to do it!”

For an IZI study parents explain what role licensed products play in purchasing decisions and in their family’s daily life, as well as what positive occurrences, problems, and conflict resolution strategies are connected with them.

Dieter Georg Herbst
“What’s your ‘brand personality’?”

Successful brand management has to consider a brand’s “personality”. Dieter Georg Herbst shares his innovative understanding of brands as being attached to an emotional world and having their own personality.

Joanna Szybist
Is TV on the decrease?

Today’s children are media multitaskers, and expect to interact with their favourite content and characters across a variety of platforms. Yet, new results of a Eurodata TV Worldwide survey show that these media savvy youngsters are far from abandoning the TV in favour of new technology.

Maya Götz
What makes them so special?

How does a “normal” television character become a favourite television character among children? The answer lies in the utility value which it has for children’s everyday life and their identity work. This article summarises the results of studies on children’s favourite TV characters, their “usefulness” from a kid’s perspective and interconnections to market dynamics.

Stefan Warth/Silke Schneider
Children and the Internet

Ludger Pfanz
3D stereoscopic

3D is the future of television and cinema. But for the future to be bright, film and TV makers need to re-learn their craft. The author shares interesting insights on this new technique, including all the challenges 3D brings.


PROGRAMME

Preben Vridstoft
“There is no innocence left in children’s television”

Isabel Wiemer
Co-construction in the “vanilla world”: the brand KiKANiNCHEN

Greg Childs
Children’s TV and the Internet – and beyond

This article includes a personal selection of websites and other interactive applications connected to children’s TV brands that provide what kids want, in innovative and engaging ways.

Silvia Lovato
Online video for elementary-aged kids

Jan-Willem Bult
A web channel for preschoolers

Silvia Lovato
Online video for preschoolers

What can you do to facilitate the online experience of preschool children trying to access videos on a TV broadcaster’s homepage? The US-American public broadcaster PBS shares insights in designing, testing, and building their online video player for preschoolers.

J.J. Johnson
Fear and loathing in 3D

First steps into using the new 3D technique can be exciting and at the same time extremely demanding – and sometimes the end result is far from satisfactory. The Canadian TV producer J.J. Johnson shares his recent approaches and experiments to introduce 3D into his highquality children’s programs.



EXPERT DISCUSSION

Bob plush toy: loved by children, disliked by adults

Little Princess plush toy: appeals to everybody

SpongeBob plush toy: being popular promises success



INFORMATION

Licensing in a nutshell

Hannah Montana: Focussing on the star’s side

The World Wide Web: Blessing and curse at the same time

You can order a paperback version of this special issue of TELEVIZION by sending an e-Mail.