ITV starts children's station

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The Independent Online

ITV is to add to its family of digital channels with a station for children, it announced yesterday. The broadcaster's decision to launch new channels comes as it struggles to counter decline in its core ITV1 channel with new offerings.

The new channel, which ITV plans to make available on all platforms including Freeview, will launch within the next six months. The channel, which will be funded by advertising, does not yet have a name. Over the past three years, ITV has started ITV2, aimed at teenagers and young adults, and ITV3, for older viewers. This autumn, it starts ITV4, which targets male viewers.

The company said the new channel will feature ITV's existing slate of children's programming.

Some have questioned whether there was room for ITV to enter this sector, given that the BBC already has two dedicated children's stations available on digital television platforms.

Nigel Pickard, director of programmes at ITV said: "This is a great opportunity for ITV to reinforce its position as a valued and trusted provider of children's programming in an increasingly competitive market and to bring ITV to a new generation of viewers."

City analysts have expressed alarm at the rate at which the audience for the core ITV1 terrestrial channel is declining. Fewer viewers means less advertising revenues. ITV has claimed the success of its digital channels has outweighed any fall in revenues from ITV1.