PARIS: Following the departures of program heads Eve Baron and, more recently, Antoine Bing, Canal J has entered a new era. Facing growing competition from other children’s channels, the dedicated French channel has finally been taken over by Lagardère group media subsidiary, Europe 1 Communication. The new shareholder named Pierre Belaisch programming director. Belaisch, who will begin at the end of the summer, helped launch the Polish youth channel Minimax, and worked for media consulting firm Carat Experts. Europe 1 Communication agrees with the general orientation decided by head Claude-Yves Robin, who announced in the first weeks of July that the fall schedule would be strengthened and focus on the seven to 12 demo.
Clearly eager to reduce its schedule costs, Canal J has already announced that it will radically decrease its in-house productions. Daily two-hour live show Zboggum, TV games, multimedia, music and science programs, whose budget amounted to about US$6 million, will be modified (formats, frequency and concepts may change). The critically acclaimed daily news edition for teenagers, JTJ, a VM production, disappears completely.
In September, the schedule’s organization will offer different programming on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. However, the channel will continue with animation, live action and documentary programs, as the redirection doesn’t question the principle of original co-productions. All projects submitted to or green-lit by Eve Baron are being examined or are currently in production.
Over the short term, the strategy of the new shareholder is to launch several children’s and youth channels under the Canal J brand. Already involved in youth entertainment via Hachette and various Internet activities, Europe 1 Communication will also promote synergy within the group.