ABC to launch dedicated kids' channel

ABC3 bows December 4, aimed at ages 6-14

SYDNEY -- The Australian Broadcasting Corp. will launch its third digital channel, ABC3, aimed at kids aged 6-14 on December 4, the national broadcaster announced Thursday.

Announcing the on-air date and the channel's new hosts, ABC director of television Kim Dalton said “Australian kids will get an innovative, new entertainment experience; one which is designed to challenge and excite them.

Australian kids, he said, deserve “better quality content, that speaks with an Australian voice and a better variety of programs, that caters to different interests and tastes.”

The channel will feature both local and international programming across a range of genres including live action, drama, animation, sports, current affairs and game shows all funded with AUS$67 million ($64 million) from the federal government. ABC3 will launch with over 40% local content, expected to expand to over 50% within 12 months.

“It will feel like a local channel with an energetic, young, dynamic look and feel but we won’t be entirely parochial as we value international programming,” Dalton said, with shows like “Richard Hammond’s Blast Lab” part of the launch schedule.

He also pointed to the importance of international co-productions, both for securing investment and strengthening Australian programming globally.

Australian-German live action series “Dance Academy” is designed as one of the channels flagship shows, while a numb of Canadian co-productions will be part of the line-up.

The channel will air from 6 am to 9 pm daily and will include two blocks hosted by new talent in the morning and the afternoon, called Studio 3 and Rollercoaster.

Local shows made specifically for the network include flagship drama “My Place,” spanning the lives kids and a house of over 130 years, and animation CJ the DJ.

In addition to the TV channel Dalton said the ABC3 brand will meet “what young kids expect of their media” with a significant online, social media and mobile presence.

Australian kids are well served by dedicated pay TV channels like Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel, which are in around 33% of Australian homes but ABC3 marks the first time a free to air channel, which will run ad-free, has been dedicated to an older kids' audience. Dalton said that currently ABC1 is the most watched network for children 5-12, across both free-to-air and pay TV children's channels, in the Monday-Friday children's time slots.

The launch of ABC3 also frees up some time on the ABC2 schedule with pre-school programming set to air now on ABC2 from 9 am – 6 pm weekdays and 6 am – 6 pm on weekends.