£60 million fund to find the next big thing in radio and young people’s television opens to applications

The search for the next big thing in radio and young people’s television has begun, as applications opened today for a share of a Government financed £60 million fund set up to provide a boost to the UK’s Radio and Television sector.

Over the past decade the output of children’s television from public service broadcasters (PSBs) in the UK has been in decline, with them spending roughly 40% less than they did in 2006.

The pilot phase of what is called the Contestable Fund will be comprised of two similar, yet administratively separate funds:

1. The Young Audiences Content Fund​​, administered by the BFI, which will assign up to £57 million to support public service content for young audiences up to 18 years of age. Awards will support up to 50% of production costs; and

2. The Audio Content Fund​​, administered by a separate not-for-profit organisation set up by Radiocentre and AudioUK, which will assign up to £3 million to support a broad range of public service audio content, for all ages, on a wider spectrum of UK radio stations.In financial year 2019-20 the Fund will allocate grants in the region of £660,000, and this expected to be in proportionate amounts across three rounds. For 2020-21 it will be around £1 million.

There will be a 50% match funding requirement to both funds.

Both of these funds will create new opportunities for broadcasters and producers to make public service content that adds to viewer and listener choice. It will create innovative and challenging content from new and diverse voices that would not otherwise be made, and will enhance opportunities for greater diversity representation, both on and off air.

As a result a significant amount of programming on children’s channels now consist of repeats. The Young Audiences Content Fund (YACF), being administered by the British Film Institute (BFI), will aim to help reverse that trend and is the first of its kind to specifically focus on television for young people under the age of 18.

The Audio Content Fund (ACF) will be used to produce distinctive, public service radio programming that is traditionally more difficult to support on a commercial basis. This includes programmes such as documentaries, comedy, drama and light entertainment.

Both funds will also provide a boost to indigenous UK languages programming such as Welsh and Gaelic, with an aim to invest five per cent of the total fund on this.

Bids will be open during set time periods each year. In 2019, the bidding rounds will be:

 >  1 April 2019 – 28 April 2019
 >  8 July 2019 – 4 August 2019
 >  14 October 2019 – 10 November 2019.

Further information is available at:

British Film Institute (BFI)
Tel: 020 7957 4751
Email: contestablefund@culture.gov.uk