LONDON: In April, after a protracted struggle for survival, cable and satellite broadcaster Flextech is to shut down the U.K.’s longest-running kids channel, TCC .
Flextech will fill the vacant airtime with an extended run of its teenage service, Trouble, which will now be broadcast from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., instead of its current eight-hour window.
TCC’s future has been in doubt ever since the arrival of highly capitalized kids services such as Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Disney and Fox. Originally called The Children’s Channel, it has been rebranded, retargeted and repeatedly promoted to little effect. By the new year, its audience share had sunk to 0.2 percent.
The beefing up of Trouble is the culmination of a long-term shift by Flextech into teenage programming.
Under former head of programming Joan Lofts, TCC briefly managed to reverse its downward slide by acquiring a number of live-action drama series for the over-10 market. Subsequently, Flextech decided to back this move by launching a dedicated program block called Trouble to house its teenage shows.
Flextech’s vice president of programming, Lis Howel,l tries to put a positive spin on the news of the closure, saying ‘Trouble already has huge brand awareness and is just what the market needs, as there are so many other channels designed for four- to nine-year-olds.’
Howell claims that Trouble already has over £500,000 (US$835,000) worth of original programming and will be launching a new flagship show in June. Currently, Trouble features such series as Swann’s Crossing, USA High, Saved By the Bell and the U.K. teen soap Hollyoaks. It is not clear, however, whether Trouble will be any more capable than TCC in competing in the 7 a.m. to noon slot, which, in the children’s arena, is traditionally dominated by preschool shows.