ITV recently announced that it will be closing the dedicated children’s channel CITV and instead focusing solely on providing children’s content within its regular programming schedule. The decision comes as part of an effort to streamline the ITV brand and cut costs, but has raised concerns about the accessibility of quality children’s programming on traditional television channels.
CITV has been a part of the ITV family since 1983, offering a range of programming aimed at children from preschoolers to preteens. The channel has been known for its mix of original programming and popular imported shows, such as Pokémon and Power Rangers. It has also been commended for its efforts to promote children’s safety and well-being through campaigns and partnerships with charities.
The decision to close CITV and integrate its content into regular ITV programming has been met with mixed reactions. While some have praised the move as a necessary step towards streamlining the channel’s offerings, others worry that the move will limit the availability of quality children’s programming.
ITV has defended the decision, stating that it will continue to offer a range of children’s content within its regular schedule. The channel will feature dedicated children’s programming blocks during weekends and school holidays, as well as targeted shows throughout the week. ITV has also pledged to increase its investment in children’s programming, which it claims will result in more high-quality content for young viewers.
However, critics argue that the move is indicative of a wider trend towards the marginalization of children’s programming on traditional television channels. The rise of streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime has led to a proliferation of high-quality children’s programming, much of which is easily accessible to viewers via smart TVs, tablets, and other devices. As a result, traditional broadcasters have found it increasingly difficult to compete, and children’s programming has been relegated to off-peak slots or removed altogether.
This trend has been particularly pronounced in the UK, where public service broadcasting (PSB) obligations require broadcasters to provide a certain percentage of their programming hours to the production and broadcast of content that meets certain social and cultural aims. Children’s programming has traditionally been a key part of this remit, but in recent years, PSBs have faced criticism for failing to meet their obligations in this area.
The closure of CITV is likely to exacerbate these concerns, as it means that one of the UK’s largest commercial PSBs will no longer have a dedicated platform for the broadcast of children’s programming. While ITV has pledged to continue investing in children’s content, there is a risk that this content will be marginalized within the broader programming schedule, making it more difficult for young viewers to find and engage with.
Despite these concerns, there are reasons to be optimistic about the future of children’s programming in the UK. While traditional broadcasters may be struggling to compete with streaming services, they still have a key advantage: they are able to reach a much wider audience. This means that children’s programming on traditional television channels has the potential to reach children who may not have access to streaming services, or whose parents may prefer the relative safety and control of traditional broadcasting.
Furthermore, traditional broadcasters are increasingly partnering with other organizations to produce and distribute high-quality children’s programming. For example, the BBC recently announced a partnership with Netflix to produce a new version of the classic children’s show The Magic School Bus, which will be available on both the BBC’s iPlayer and Netflix’s streaming service. Other PSBs, such as Channel 4, have also formed partnerships with digital content providers to produce children’s programming.
Overall, the closure of CITV is a worrying development for fans of quality children’s programming. However, it is important to remember that this is just one channel, and that there are many other options available for young viewers. Traditional broadcasters are still a vital part of the UK media landscape, and they have the potential to play a key role in providing high-quality children’s programming that is accessible to all. By partnering with other organizations and investing in quality programming, PSBs can continue to meet their obligations to children, and ensure that young viewers have access to the content they need and deserve.