ABC, BBC, Sony and Netflix on board to attend inaugural Australian Children’s Content Summit


Representatives from the ABC, BBC, CBC, Sony Pictures Television and Netflix are confirmed to attend the inaugural Australian Children’s Content Summit in Coffs Harbour in August.

The three-day event will be presented by SLR Productions with principal partner the Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF), and is billed as a chance to connect with industry executives and creatives, build relationships and encourage business.

Actor Mike Goldman will host the event, which will include speaker panels, breakout sessions, roundtables, business discussions as well as social engagements.

Local executives confirmed to attend include ABC head of children’s content Libbie Doherty; ACTF CEO Jenny Buckland and head of content Bernadette O’Mahony; Screen Australia head of content Grainne Brunsdon, Screen NSW head Kyas Hepworth, Netflix content executive Nakul Legha and APAC studio and productions affairs director Deb Richards; and NITV head of commissions Marissa McDowell.

The international delegation includes BBC Children’s head of commissioning and acquisitions Sarah Muller; CBC senior director of children’s content Marie McCann; Cyber Group Studios president and CEO Karen K. Miller; Sinking Ship Entertainment head of production and executive producer Carla de Jong; Sony Pictures Television Kids EVP and general manager Joe D’Ambrosia; Thunderbird Entertainment and Atomic Cartoons president and chief creative officer Matthew Berkowitz and Trustbridge Entertainment president Bob Higgins.

“The Australian Children’s Content Summit is set to become a global highlight, gathering the brightest minds and creative talents from the children’s screen industry in Australia and worldwide. Against the stunning backdrop of the Coffs Coast, this event will ignite inspiring discussions, forge valuable relationships, and drive business opportunities for the children’s entertainment sector,” said SLR Productions CEO and Australian Children’s Content Summit founder Suzanne Ryan.

“With a strong commitment to collaboration, this inaugural Children’s Summit invites delegates to engage in fruitful partnerships and drive the creation of exciting and new content.”

The summit comes at a complex time for the Australian children’s sector. On the one hand, Australian children’s content is widely recognised on the world stage. In addition to being the most watched show ever on ABC iview, Bluey is currently one of the most popular series in the world – Nielsen recently put it as the most streamed acquired series in the US – and has been decorated with an International Emmy Award and a BAFTA. Series such as Hardball and First Day have also sold widely internationally and won Emmys.

However, expenditure on children’s content has trended down since the removal of sub-quotas on free-to-air commercial television in 2020. The Australian Children’s Producers group, which consists of more than 30 businesses, argued in 2021 that the former government’s decision to suspend the children’s quota during COVID led to commissions being cancelled and an estimated 3,000 jobs lost. There is currently no mandate for any broadcaster or platform to produce local content for children.

The most recent Screen Australia drama report puts the ABC as the financer of the majority of children’s content produced in this country; of the 11 titles to enter production in 2021/22, it financed eight. The others included NITV’s Barrumbi Kids, Network 10’s Rock Island Mysteries and Netflix’s Gymnastics Academy: A Second Chance. Only 48 hours of children’s content were produced in total; well below the five year average of 77.

In its National Cultural Policy, Revive, the Federal Government hinted children’s content is in its sights when it comes to its planned streaming service regulation, stating: “It is important that streaming services invest in key genres, including children’s content, scripted drama and documentaries.”

ACTF’s Buckland said a summit to bring everyone together to talk about children’s screen content was timely.

“We are all at a crossroads with so many challenges and opportunities, and so much to think about in terms of changing audience habits and different ways of working. Taking the time to reflect and connect with each other is a great idea and the Australian Children’s Television Foundation is proud to support the Australian Children’s Content Summit,” she said.

Screen Australia is the major government partner for the event, which is also supported by Screen NSW and the Department of Regional NSW. Corporate sponsors include Fulcrum Media Finance, Simpsons, Hayes Knight, Silver Trak Digital, Count Out Loud, Klang and Scout Management. 

Industry support is being provided by Australian Children’s Producers, Screen Producers Australia and Screenworks with the regional support of the City of Coffs Harbour and the National Cartoon Gallery.

The Australian Children’s Content Summit will be held August 29-31 and held at the Pacific Bay Resort, Bay Drive, Coffs Harbour.