It looks like the kids down under will be getting a Christmas gift of their own dedicated channel, ABC3, just before the year’s end. ABC Australia‘s executive head of children’s programming Tim Brooke-Hunt talks to KidScreen about his plans for the new net.
Brooke-Hunt notes the pubcaster’s analogue platform (ABC1) has a significantly larger audience than its digital platform (ABC2), the preschool audience for ABC2 has been growing quickly over the last 12 months. ‘Already, ABC2 has a larger preschool audience than any of our STV competitors during its daytime broadcast hours,’ he says. ‘This indicates that the Australian child audience is accepting digital channels, and we expect this trend to continue even more strongly once ABC3 joins the new Freeview digital platform to be launched later this year.’
Diginet ABC3 will target kids ages six to 15, with core target of kids eight to 12, and is slated to air 15 hours age-appropriate programming daily from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. ABC1 currently airs three hours each of preschool and older kids programming, while ABC2 runs seven hours of preschool programming daily.
Set to compete with dedicated channels from Disney, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, 50% of ABC3′s sked will be filled by local content within a few years. Brooke-Hunt says it’ll offer a mix of commissioned and acquired programming across a range of genres including live-action drama and comedy, animation, factual/reality, adventure, wildlife, news, indigenous, games shows, music and sport.
‘The majority of this programming will be new acquisitions and commissions, rather than coming from our existing inventory,’ he explains, ‘and will include some Australian drama series previously shown on local commercial free-to-air networks.’
Recently announced live-action drama commissions include the historical drama My Place, teen drama Dance Academy and comedy series Dead Normal. Commissioned and pre-bought animated series slated to air on both ABC1 and ABC3 are CJ the DJ, Gasp! and Dex Hamilton. He’s also readying the announcement of new non-drama series commissions.
In the meantime, Brooke-Hunt says ABC1 will continue to air six hours daily of kids programs ‘until digital take-up justifies doing otherwise.’ In the meantime, ABC1 will increasingly highlight the ‘Best of’ programming on our digital channels ABC2 and ABC3.
ABC3′s operating budget will be tabled along with the Australian government’s federal budget on May 12.