London 21 May 2012The Children’s Media Conference – the leading event for everyone involved in developing, producing and distributing kids’ content across all platforms – has today announced its programme for the 2012 conference, which takes place from the 4 – 6 July in Sheffield. The conference will be chaired by former BBC head of children’s programmes Anna Home and organised by Kathy Loizou and Greg Childs.

Lane Merrifield, co-founder of Disney’s Club Penguin and Executive Vice President of Disney Online Studios, will deliver this year’s keynote speech.  Addressing the Conference theme "Ahead of the Game", Lane will share his insights into the success of the global number one virtual world for children aged 6-14, while considering new ways of connecting with kids in the future.

Following the keynote, an impressive array of media luminaries will take to the floor to host and participate in a series of Masterclasses and Panel Sessions.

Ian Livingstone OBE – Life President of Eidos Games and co-founder of the popular and influential series of  Fighting Fantasy roleplaying gamebooks – will reflect on the current creative challenges and opportunities in interactive media, sharing some of his learning from the last 30 years and considering what the future holds.  Ian‘s influence on the UK games industry has been fundamental, and more recently his report to government on equipping the next generation with skills in coding, has led to a revolution in the ICT curriculum in schools.

Ben Bocquelet – creator of The Amazing World of Gumball phenomenon – will join Mic Graves (director) and Daniel Lennard (exec producer) to give a masterclass on how The Amazing World of Gumball became a BAFTA award-winner.

Reg Bailey - Chief Executive of Mothers’ Union, led a six-month independent review into the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood. He called on businesses and broadcasters to play their part in the protection of children.  Now he joins leading academics and representatives from mobile and online operators to discuss how far the industry has responded to that call in the CMC panel “Are we Safe Yet?”

In a new initiative for 2012, CMC is asking industry leaders to “put their money where their mouth is” in a Dragons’ Den-style pitching competition featuring Nigel Pickard, Zodiak Media, Sander Schwartz, Fremantle Media and Michael Acton Smith, Mind Candy.

In a second new initiative for 2012, there will be a Meet the Commissioners - China session.   Senior representatives from CCTV (China Central Television) and Kaku Animation Company will offer opportunities for sales, co-production and commissioning in China, and hold a series of one-to-one meetings with potential suppliers.

Commissioners and senior executives from all major broadcasters and publishers are attending, including   Stuart Cosgrove, Director of Creative Diversity, Channel 4; Joe Godwin, Director of Children's BBC; Kaye Benbow, Controller of CBeebies; Helen Bullough, Head of CBBC Production; Gemma Brady, Editor, Education, Channel 4; Louise Bucknole, Director of Programming, Disney Channels UK & Ireland; Beth Gardiner, VP of Original Programming at the Disney Channel; Jamila Metran, Programme Manager CITV; Tim Patterson, VP of Scheduling at Nickelodeon UK; Daniel Lennard Vice President Original Series & Development at Turner Broadcasting ; Sionned Wyn Roberts, Content Commissioner Children's, Learning & Digital at S4C; Eric Huang, Business Development Director, Penguin Digital; plus representatives from leading production, animation, distribution and licensing companies.

The conference close will be a debate on the future prospects for children’s independent film-making, following the Chris Smith Review of Film policy, and the appointment of Ben Roberts as Director of the Film Fund at the BFI.  Ben will join leading producers and distributors to discuss what can be done to stimulate animation and children’s and family film in the UK.

Anna Home OBE, Conference Chair said:

“This year’s CMC theme is ‘Ahead of the Game’, a nod of course to the spirit of competition and collaboration which we’ll see at the upcoming Olympics, ‘the greatest show on earth’.

2012’s CMC will present intelligence and ideas to help delegates to scope out the future of their businesses and to find partners and colleagues in order to compete with the best in the world.

Currently children’s media and entertainment is full of new possibilities – there are new players in the kids’ market place as well as the rise and rise of Apps for kids and smart phones, along with other opportunities for transmedia development of brands.  No doubt it’s an exciting environment to be in, though it does bring with it the uncertainty as to which business models to follow.  The CMC will help delegates plan a route through this unpredictability.

The remit of the CMC is to provide support for producers and buyers to produce and distribute the best possible quality media for children. This year’s key speakers will cover the entire gamut of excellence in media: Ben Bocquelet will discuss award-winning kids comedy and animated innovation; Reg Bailey will talk about the commercialisation of childhood; Ian Livingstone will take us on a creative journey through 30 years of game-making and consider a future generation equipped to make the UK a powerhouse of game development; and Lane Merrifield, notably “ahead of the game” when he co-founded Club Penguin will explore new relationships with the audience.

I look forward to welcoming delegates to Sheffield this July to be part of the real “greatest show on earth” – making content for kids that’s the best that it can be.”

Other key sessions include:

Second Screen Companion apps alongside TV content have made a big impact in mainstream viewing – are they coming to kids’ TV too? Leading producers explore how second screen children’s TV can work.

3DTV and Beyond – Examines the possible future for 3DTV. Will we ever reach a point of duality where programmes are simulcast in 2D and 3D, or will 3D be relegated to only sports and ‘special event’ TV.

So Now You’ve Got an App? – This workshop follows on from last year’s “So You Think You Need an App”. Delegates will get hands on opportunities to explore the creative and business issues that can arise as the apps market matures.

Screen to Shelf – Ready for Retail – Successful children’s media explodes into reality through imaginative play, experiences and products. Aimed at creators, producers and commercial partners who have ambition to take their brand into a life off-screen, this workshop will provide the insight and practical skills to help you translate from screen to shelf.

Never Ending Story – This session will explore the art of storytelling. Is it fundamentally the same as it has always been? Or has technology changed everything? Do storytellers from different disciplines approach narratives differently? How does storytelling have to change in light of children's media consumption? Will stories cease to have a beginning, middle and an end? 

Other conference sessions include : Shape It, Pitch it (on early stage project development) ; The Power of the Parent; The Kids Are All Right (on conducting rigorous research); Enabling Kids and Connecting Communities; Protecting Sally the Seahorse (on character exploitation and protection) ; Thank You for the Music; The Audio Picture (brand extension on audio platforms) ; Working with CBBC and the ever popular panel-show style opening session which reviews the past year, explores future issues and finds out just what kids are up to in a light hearted quiz format.


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