Groups Say New YouTube Kids Content Should Be Commercial Free

A boy watches content on a tablet
(Image credit: JGI/Tom Grill via Getty Images)

Children's privacy and welfare advocates are calling on Google to spend its planned $100 million YouTube children's content production fund on commercial-free programming and on content from diverse producers.

That is according to a copy of a letter to YouTube CEO Susan Wojciki from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, ParentsTogether, the Center for Digital Democracy, Free Press, and the Writers Guild of America, East.

The fund is part of a settlement Google struck with the Federal Trade Commission to resolve violations of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

"This fund has the potential to stamp an imprint on children’s online content, which will have influence for years to come," they said. "We ask that YouTube adopt policies to ensure this fund will operate in the best interests of children worldwide."

They said the fund should:

  1. "Reflect the perspectives and interests of children from different countries and cultures
  2. "Underwrite content makers who are diverse and independent, with at least 50% of funding dedicated to historically underrepresented communities
  3. "Promote educational content and content which reflects the highest values of civil society, including diversity
  4. "Not support content which promotes commercialism
  5. "Facilitate union representation of creators of scripted and nonfiction content for YouTube
  6. "Be advised by a team of leading independent experts who can ensure programming is commissioned that truly serves the educational, civic, and developmental needs of young people."

In September 2019, YouTube agreed to pay a record $170 million to settle allegations by the FTC and the New York Attorney General's office that YouTube "illegally collected personal information from children without their parents’ consent."

"Google purposefully positioned YouTube to be the leading global platform targeting children and teens around the world," said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, in a statement. "The company has a special responsibility to ensure that its new fund is governed by policies that enable young people to access an array of quality content that benefits them—not Google’s bottom line."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.