TV battle for children begins: Broadcasters reveal ratings weapons

(First Edition)

THE Avenger Penguins are the latest weapon to be unveiled as television broadcasters join battle next month on the field of children's television.

Children's ITV (CITV) said yesterday it had invested in several new series including The Avenger Penguins, about three adventure-seeking penguins fighting the evil Caractacus P Doom; The Hurricanes, a cartoon about a globe-trotting football team and Treasure Island, featuring the voices of Hugh Laurie and Dawn French.

The BBC said yesterday that Live and Kicking, presented by Andi Peters and Emma Forbes, will be the successor to the popular Saturday morning show Going Live], which finished earlier this year.

Since relaunching CITV earlier this year, ITV claims that its programmes have become more popular than those of the BBC which has traditionally won young people's loyalties.

In the autumn, when CITV was on air, ITV won 50 per cent of the children's television audience against the BBC's 39.7 per cent. But now CITV has to battle on two new fronts: Channel 4, buoyed by the success of The Big Breakfast in drawing younger viewers has appointed its first Controller for Children's Programmes and satellite television viewers are to be offered two new children's channels.

Nickelodeon claims to be the 'world's first channel for kids' and is all 'kid tested and kid approved'. The Children's Channel moves to satellite broadcasting on 1 September. Dawn Airey, ITV Network Controller for Children's Programmes, said a pounds 36m annual budget was evidence that ITV was taking its commitment to children's programmes seriously.

Dave Lee Travis, the Radio 1 disc jockey who announced on-air last Sunday that he was leaving the station when his contract ended in October, has made his last broadcast for BBC. Johnny Beerling, the station controller, said an interview he had given the Sun newspaper was in breach of contract.