The paper presents empirical data about children's television programmes in nine Asian countries. The countries are China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam. The data is from a study conducted, in 1996, by the Asian Media Information and Communication Centre (AMIC) in Singapore.
For purposes of comparison, children's television programmes are classified into 12 types. These are: Animation or cartoons; Puppets; Story Telling; Serial/Drama; Pre-school Magazine; Magazine Information; Information/News; Magazine Entertainment; Quiz/Games; Music; Religious; Cultural/Traditional. There is also an 'other' category to classify those programmes that do not come within the 12 categories.
The following are some of the more important findings of this research.
- Predominance of animation programmes in children's television. It is the single largest category of children's programmes in many Asian countries.
- The dominant position of foreign programmes in children's television. This has become more pronounced in recent years with the spread of multi-national satellite television in Asia.
- Children's television programmes, produced in many Asian countries, do not appeal to children for whom they are meant. Consequently children prefer to watch programmes meant for adults.
- There is a paucity of programmes for older children such as children in their pre-teens and early teens. Some programmes are produced for children within a wide age range such as six to 12 years. The intellectual abilities of children within such a wide age range differ considerably. Consequently the programmes end up appealing to no one.
- Of the children's programme producers in these countries, interviewed for this survey, very few knew about the United Nations Charter on Children's Rights. Producers from China, Japan and Vietnam were the most knowledgeable about these rights. Television programmes produced in these countries have incorporated information about these rights into their programmes.
- Of the countries surveyed three countries have followed policies conducive to the development of children's television programmes. These are China, Vietnam and Japan. In China and Vietnam support received from the government was crucial. In Japan the public broadcasting policy of NHK was behind the success of children's television.
- However in many other Asian countries children's television programmes have to compete in the market place. In this it could not succeed.
- The study shows clearly the need to develop and promote children's television in many Asian countries. It also shows that market forces alone will not do this. Advertisers and marketers see little profit in children's television.
- At the Asian Summit of Child Rights and the Media, held in Manila in 1996, AMIC proposed the creation of an Asian Children's Communication Fund (ACCF). The purpose of ACCF is to produce and market quality children's programmes for television, radio and the press. It is an idea awaiting support from governments, business and civil society organizations.