Participatory TV programming with and for children
TASHKENT, Uzbekistan, October 2011 - Local television producers of children’s programming spent four days in late September examining how they do their jobs by looking through the eyes of children. What they saw and what they discovered will hopefully broaden the way children’s television is created in Uzbekistan.
The producers were part of a workshop sponsored by UNICEF in partnership with the Prix Jeunesse Foundation based in Germany. Steve Hocking, a media consultant and former children’s television producer for BBC facilitated the workshop.
“The purpose of the Tashkent workshop was to allow local programmers to explore the issue of children’s television by talking directly with children, observe what is being done in other countries and hopefully gather new ideas for producing quality programming for children,” said Jean-Michel Delmotte, UNICEF representative.
This was the first time television professionals from competing channels in Tashkent gathered together to share ideas and work toward a common goal of creating quality programming for children.
Another unique element for the participants was the inclusion of children in the training process. On the third day of the workshop, 12 children ranging in age from 6 to 16 years joined the group to share their ideas about television, what they watch, what they like to do in their free time, and what types of books they read. They also watched samples of award-winning children’s programs from other countries with the adults and offered their own ideas and impressions.
Their insightfulness and depth of understanding, even regarding complex issues, impressed the producers. Having children join the workshop to personally share their own experiences was a valuable and eye-opening part of the process, participants reported.
“One of the main challenges of creating children’s programming is to understand children in the right way,” said Bakhtiyor Turakhanov, one of the children’s television producers.
For the children, the opportunity to share their ideas with adults was also new and exciting. “This was very interesting,” said 16-year-old Katya. “It’s very good that you want to know about our opinions. It’s nice to see that someone cares about our ideas.”
The work process included sessions on developing programme concepts jointly, taking and giving constructive feedback, and learning how to involve children in all stages
“The workshop was an opportunity for producers to view and critique some of the best practices in children’s programming from around the world. It enabled them to step out of stereotypes and dabble with innovations,” said Savita Varde-Naqvi, Communication for Development Specialist at UNICEF. “They also saw the value of sharing ideas and working together.”
By the end of the workshop, the producers had collectively drafted a 10-point list of criteria they considered important for creating quality in children’s programming. One of the criteria was the importance of inclusiveness, specifically incorporating children with disabilities into the programmess. Using these criteria, UNICEF has announced a contest for producers to create their own children’s programmes that should be aired before December 15.