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Tuesday, 20 November, 2001, 00:02 GMT
BBC children's channels unveiled
Long-running favourites such as Blue Peter will be included on the digital service
The BBC has announced the names of its two new digital children's channels.

CBBC Digital and Cbeebies will form part of a package of four new digital TV services recently given the go-ahead by Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell.

The controller of Children's BBC, Nigel Pickard, said the two channels would "herald a golden age in children's programming" and would be backed with 40m of investment.

They will become the new powerhouses for production

Children's BBC controller Nigel Pickard
But the new channels have been criticised by commercial broadcasters, who argue that the new BBC services would be too similar to their existing pay-TV channels.

Mr Pickard said long-standing favourites Newsround and Blue Peter would have a presence on CBBC Digital, which is aimed at older children, while its sister service would be aimed at pre-school children.

A first for the new services will be a preschool drama, Applecross, which is set in a fictional village using a cast of child and adult actors.

CBBC Digital will have a daily live show Xchange - with 1,040 shows commissioned over two years - and a live Sunday morning entertainment show is being developed.

Drama and factual shows will also form a large part of the new schedules, which the BBC said would feature over 700 hours of original digital commissions.

Mr Pickard, who set out his plans in a speech to broadcasting industry figures at Bafta, said: "When the Secretary of State gave her approval for the two channels, she recognised that public service broadcasting for children was a fundamental necessity for the digital age.

"She looked to CBBC to create services that would be a legacy from us to future generations of children and that is what we are going to do."

'Fewer ITV shows'

The controller of Children's ITV (CITV) said three weeks ago that a downturn in advertising revenue would lead to more repeats and fewer new shows being commissioned for ITV1.

Mr Pickard said: "In view of recent news from CITV, the impact that CBBC's digital commissioning will have on the UK production base cannot be underestimated.

"The new channels will herald a golden age in children's programming. They will become the new powerhouses for production, offering more opportunities as well as more funding for the best creative and innovative ideas."

The new services, all free to those with access to digital TV,will also include:

  • BBC Four - a service for "anyone interested in culture, arts and ideas", to replace BBC Knowledge.

  • Five digital radio services: Network X, for a young specialist audience, Asian Network, Five Live Sports Extra, Network Y, an archive music and voice channel and Network Z, a speech-based service

    See also:

    20 Nov 01 | TV and Radio
    40m for BBC children's channels
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