The biggest frustration for a CITV controller is the fact that kids shows are restricted to such a brief block of time. But all that is about to change with the launch of a CITV digital channel.
Pickard says a launch is imminent, however, carriage details need to be sorted out-as does a distinctive identity for the new network. ‘I don’t want to launch just another kids channel which showcases old shows,’ says Pickard. ‘The market is so competitive that we need to think hard about what audience is available – and do something which will set the channel apart.’ The newly-developed live presentation skills on the CITV block are likely to come in handy in this regard.
Digital TV is one dimension of Pickard’s ambition to make CITV ‘a brand that is available to kids all day.’ A new magazine, a CD-ROM club and enhanced TV trials are part of that 360 degree strategy. So is the development of CITV’s online presence. ‘We are fortunate to have one URL for CITV,’ says Pickard. ‘The companies that produce for us have been very supportive of an umbrella brand.’
Pickard says producers will increasingly be expected to demonstrate how they plan to use the Web when preparing a creative pitch to CITV. He believes CITV will be able to develop into something more than just an entertainment brand as a result of the Internet. ‘It could have an educational side,’ he says. ‘We could be a conduit to homework help or advice on holiday jobs and hobbies. We could also provide kids with a safe haven and screening agent for e-commerce and email. Kids are already such big users of online, that it
will be important for us to use it to open doors to audiences.’