Monday, August 31, 2015

The top story on this morning's Newsround bulletin at 8.15am -

Ricky: One of Britain's most popular scientists, Professor Brian Cox, says not enough girls are considering a career in science. He wants that to change, and went back to school to urge more girls to experiment with science. Leah was there.

Professor Brian Cox: 'More girls needed in science'

(ITV News London - 24th August 2015) How to be as good at science as Professor Brian Cox

Earlier this year there was a great deal of controversy surrounding the issue of sexism in science. Newsround didn't mention the story which was sparked when leading scientist, Sir Tim Hunt, told an audience in South Korea "Let me tell you about my trouble with girls - three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry."

Sir Tim found himself in hot water over the remarks and had to resign from posts he held. Some thought he was right to go, but others, including Brian Cox, felt he was being treated unfairly.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The third series of The Next Step began on CBBC today in the UK.

Yesterday I pondered on why The Family Channel website is blocked outside Canada. I've now found that CBBC, too, is blocked in other countries.

The lack of diversity is another subject Newsround Blog raised with the Family Channel last year when they invited some of The Next Step stars to answer questions via Twitter. I was mainly concerned about the failure to portray gay characters. And, of course, a recent survey indicates that a lot more young people consider themselves bisexual or gay than had been previously thought.

There is an attitude amongst those involved in children's TV whereby, whenever the subject of lesbian and gay relationships is broached, they just clam up. So my attempts to get answers from anyone at the Family Channel, or working on The Next Step were doomed from the start. But that doesn't mean we should give up trying. After all, it's less than fifty years since an interracial kiss caused outrage in some States when it was broadcast on American TV.

Towards the end of series 2 of The Next Step West told Emily how he had feelings for her, but in the first episode of series 3 we find out that 'Wemily' won't happen; they'll just remain friends:-

Emily and West on The Next Step: Coming Home? (S3E01)

Emily: After my [knee] injury there's been a lot going on, and my mind just isn't on him right now.

West: I realise now, that with all the drama that's happening with her, and with the troupe, I know that there's really no hope for this relationship.

Emily: But I still really want to be friends, so I'm not really sure what to say to him.

West: All I know is that Emily needs a friend, and I'm going to be the best friend that I can be for her.

Emily: I think we both understand what's going on ... we're friends and that's it.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Some in the UK are eagerly awaiting more from The Next Step which begins a first run of series 3 on CBBC tomorrow. The Next Step is made in Canada for the Family Channel, with backing from, amongst others, the Shaw Rocket Fund.

Last year Newsround Blog tweeted the Family Channel asking why people from other countries aren't welcome to visit their website. Unfortunately I didn't get a reply. I've now tweeted CBBC with a similar question, and hopefully they will be able to explain.

Watch this space!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Some broadcasters, including the BBC, have been criticised for breaking Ofcom's rules by screening news films and documentaries funded by foreign governments, charities and non-governmental organisations. Last year Newsround Blog revealed similar concerns over the dubious circumstances surrounding the acquisition of Canadian TV series The Next Step for British audiences. In one episode the characters are seen making fun of British accents. The heteronormative mockumentary forms a mainstay of the CBBC channel, with series 3 starting on Monday 24th August 2015 at 10am.

A CBBC Newsround investigation of vlogging on the internet has led the ASA to add to its earlier advice, so that vloggers are asked to make it clear if they are getting paid to promote a product. Ricky explained it all to Leah on Newsround this morning. He talked about the need to be more honest and more transparent.

According to the new advice "There is nothing wrong with vloggers (or others creating editorial content), marketers or agencies entering into commercial relationships: what’s wrong is if consumers are misled."

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


From time to time Newsround Blog has published emails sent to various individuals, mainly people who work at the BBC. However, following my investigation of whistleblowing procedures, I received an email from the BBC on Friday 14th August 2015 which stated "a human error was made in our email system which caused your emails sent to a wide variety of other addresses around the BBC to be diverted for a number of months and not delivered to their recipients."

I've been told that the mistake has now been corrected.

In fact Newsround Blog had not received replies from anyone at the BBC since late November 2014. I did try to check with some of the intended recipients via other means, for example, via Twitter. The BBC's clarification would account for the lack of a responses to emails mentioned in this blog over the last few months.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

There was a Doctor Who-themed same-sex wedding on this morning's episode of Marrying Mum and Dad.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

An excellent report about gay rights in Uganda on Newsround this afternoon (1.50pm bulletin) -

Ricky Boleto: Next - what rights gay people should have is a big issue around the world, particularly in Africa. In the African country of Uganda, gay people have been holding rallies to try to change the law.

Ricky reports on gay rights in Africa

Ricky: Hundreds of people waved the Ugandan national flag and Rainbow banners. They danced and sang. They say they're fighting for more freedom to admit you're gay across Africa. It's against the law to be openly gay in Uganda and in many other African countries. But there have been some changes recently. Up until last year gay people could be sentenced to life in jail. Now that can't happen any more, and the demonstrators think African governments should be more understanding. They say they want equal human rights for gay people.

Moses Kimbugwe (gay rights supporter): Violence, discrimination, harassment and stigma against all LGBT people is bad. So we are here to send a message to the wider population that we do exist and we do want rights like any other Ugandan.

Ricky: The demonstrators say they're proud to be gay and they want society to respect them. In Africa many people hold traditional beliefs and do not approve of gay people. Some African leaders have said it's not part of their culture. But a few weeks ago President Obama visited East Africa and gave his support for equal rights. The gay rights demonstrators are hoping that President Obama's words and today's marches will begin to change people's minds.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Young dancers (aged 11-15) are being offered the chance to try out for a guest role in The Next Step. CBBC has been advertising this opportunity for a while now, and this morning's Newsround bulletins included a message from Blue Peter's Lindsey Russell asking for kids to take part. It's not clear whether lesbian and gay teens are welcome.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

One of the questions at this year's Children's Media Conference was about the lack of disabled representation on children's TV.

Anna Home agreed with the questioner that more needs to be done. She mentioned that, in the distant past, there was a BBC programme specifically for deaf children, but nowadays it's felt important to avoid ghettoising kids. Anna said that drama is a very good way of bringing in more diversity.

Alice Webb, Director of BBC Children's told the CMC that she was very proud of what the BBC is doing on TV: "26% of portrayal on CBBC & CBeebies are of diverse characters."

Alice Webb: I think it's right that we look at the whole range of diversity, not just disability. I think we cover that with LGBT, and, as I say, we cover 26%. I don't think that we need to do any more in terms of measuring individual elements because we cover it all.

Steve Hewlett: Except that the overall figure hides a multitude of sins, doesn't it potentially? Especially if you're disabled?

Alice Webb: Yeah. And I'll look to the guys across the piece in terms of how we break that down. I don't exactly ... I'm very happy to get those figures out.

More recently, a piece appeared in The Guardian entitled Children's TV pretends disability doesn't exist. The journalist, Tim Smedley, believes that it's mainly the commercial TV channels, rather than the BBC, which are at fault. I did ask Mr Smedley whether he'd also investigated the lack of LGB portrayal on children's TV, but failed to get a response.