How green is children’s television?
Oates, Caroline J.
Laing, Audrey Frances
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OATES, C. J., MCDONALD, S., BLADES, M. and LAING, A., 2013. How green is children’s television? Social Business, 3 (1), pp. 37-45.
Purpose To meet stated waste reduction goals, the UK government via Defra (Department for environment, farming and rural affairs) is attempting to reduce household mainstream waste. One approach is to encourage children in environmentally-friendly behaviour. We take this as a starting point to document the environmental content of dedicated children’s channels, and to consider whether television could act as an ecological socialising agent for waste reduction behaviour. Approach Our content analysis of four children’s television channels over 168 hours recorded the extent to which the waste hierarchy (reduce, reuse and recycling behaviour) was included in all forms of broadcast output: programmes, advertisements, trailers, sponsorship and idents. Outcomes We found 6,921 instances of waste activity, distributed across 666 broadcasts which included eleven identifiable materials, such as plastic and cardboard. Whilst reuse behaviour was well represented (5,751), instances of reduction (406) and recycling were relatively infrequent (275) and there were 489 instances of materials being placed in refuse bins. Contribution By placing children’s television on the environmental agenda, we raise the possibility of channels examining their own broadcast material to assess its environmental content, and how that content is distributed across the waste hierarchy and in relation to broadcast output. Further research Our case study was based on four channels and within the specific context of waste. There are many more channels (e.g. available on cable/satellite) and more environmental behaviours that can be examined with a view to meeting other targets – for example those connected to climate change such as travel, domestic energy consumption, and food choices, all of which are included on children’s television. The response of the intended audience to the environmental content can be assessed.