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New children's channel for ABC

Posted April 22, 2009 15:49:00
Updated April 22, 2009 19:43:00

2020 recommendation: 'Australian stories on children's television'

2020 recommendation: 'Australian stories on children's television' (Flickr: Aaronyx, file photo)

A dedicated ABC children's channel and $50 million to develop the bionic eye are two of several measures adopted by the Government from last year's 2020 summit recommendations.

ABC managing director Mark Scott says the decision will ensure future generations can continue to hear and see Australian stories on children's television.

"We are very pleased that despite these tough financial times, delivering a dedicated children's television channel for the ABC has been seen to be a priority for the Government," he said.

"It was strongly endorsed at the 2020 summit, we received very popular support for the proposal there.

"Now we are very, very pleased that the go ahead has come from the Government."

Releasing its response today, the Government has also committed to deploying civilians to respond to regional emergencies, an Indigenous cultural and education knowledge centre and a scholarship scheme for Asian and Australian students to promote cultural understanding.

But as expected, moves towards making Australia a republic will not be taken forward at this stage.

A year ago more than 1,000 people took part in the two-day summit to discuss ideas for the country across a range of areas including the arts, education, governance and productivity.

The summit put forward hundreds of recommendations for the Government, with overwhelming support from participants for Australia to take steps towards becoming a republic.

The Government originally promised to release its response by the end of last year.

Children's channel

ABC director of television Kim Dalton said the ABC was well advanced in its planning for the digital children's channel, with further details to be made available in the coming weeks and months.

"The ABC's proposal to Government was an aim to broadcasting 50 per cent Australian content on the channel across all genres, including drama, animation and factual programming," he said.

"This will ensure that future generations of Australian children can continue to see and hear Australian stories and Australian voices on children's television.

"As well as the popular ABC Kids programs currently screening on ABC TV, we'll be commissioning and acquiring new material for the channel, working closely with the independent production sector."

Tags: television, federal-government, broadcasting, australia

Comments (48)

Comments for this story are closed. No new comments can be added. If you would like to have your say on this issue, you can do so via the Emails section of our Opinion pages.

  • scott:

    22 Apr 2009 4:05:27pm

    well, it is just one thing, but it sounds okay to me.

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      • Gregh:

        22 Apr 2009 5:48:07pm

        Why do you need a Govt funded Kids channel? Its sounds Orwellian.

        There are far better ways to spend such money.

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          • CMarx:

            22 Apr 2009 6:03:14pm

            In what way is a Privately funded Kids channel less Orwellian?

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              • gregh:

                22 Apr 2009 6:40:06pm


                It can be used for broadcasticng programs with a strict dogmatic view favouring a particular cause.

                A private kids channel main motive is profit and nothing else unlike taxpayer funded kids channel.

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              • Mr Q:

                22 Apr 2009 7:02:39pm

                "A private kids channel main motive is profit and nothing else unlike taxpayer funded kids channel."

                Exactly Gregh - now you know why it should be publicly funded - do we really want people creating kids channels solely for the purpose of profiteering from children?

                At least a publicly owned kids channel can focus on education and entertainment rather than selling things to kids.

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      • anon:

        22 Apr 2009 6:05:41pm

        yeah, and what this country really needs is for its kids to be watching more TV. A real nation builder that one.


        Bionic eye is great though.

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  • Marcus:

    22 Apr 2009 4:07:57pm

    As far as I was concerned, a dedicated ABC children's channel was already on the way. In fact John Faine recently made a similar comment relating to the inevitability of such a channel on air quite recently.

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      • GregW:

        22 Apr 2009 4:22:26pm

        Agreed, this has been proposed for a long time, and is not a result of the 2020 summit.

        Indeed I'm not aware of any significant 'idea's' from the summit which weren't already on the agenda.

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          • Adam:

            22 Apr 2009 4:30:28pm

            Not only has it been proposed for a while, it did in fact exist for a couple of years following the switch on of digital services. Who remembers ABC Kids and Fly TV, two extra services that were trialed and then axed under Jonathon Shire.

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          • Leone:

            22 Apr 2009 4:39:12pm

            Certainly no ideas came from the federal and state Liberal politicians who took part in the summit.

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              • CrankyAllTheTime:

                22 Apr 2009 6:04:16pm

                None that made it onto the white boards controlled by the 'facilitators'
                I heard David Marr on "Insiders" say that their ideas (in governance) were unrecognisable after they were 'rephrased' by the facilitators

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          • Smaug:

            22 Apr 2009 7:26:25pm

            The ABC had a dedicated Kids channel but had to cancel it thanks to Howard starving it of funds.

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  • Harry:

    22 Apr 2009 4:12:37pm

    There will be many whinger and whiners coming from that 30% who hate Rudd no matter what he does. But these two initiatives are so welcome, and it is encouraging that they arose out of an initiative such as the 20/20 summit. If only this damned recession had not hit us, what this government could have achieved by way of nation building can only be imagined (and I know the naysayers will imagine all sorts of incredible things!)

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      • simon:

        22 Apr 2009 4:44:31pm

        Well Its just bad luck all round for Rudd eh.

        All that global pressure destroying the great mans dreams...

        Prey tell.. what nation building greatness is there in a ABC for kids channel?

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      • Anon.:

        22 Apr 2009 4:47:57pm

        There is no need for any complaint.

        With Rudd's record, it is likely never to be implimented. Which means no money is wasted.

        And it also means we will never need to complain about how crappily it was done. Or to try and figure out what should have been done differently.

        So it all balances out. Rudd needs to make false promises more often.

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  • Ann:

    22 Apr 2009 4:16:32pm

    Usual process for this government - big media build up and coverage of 'national importance' only to be found to 'government impotence'. This will now join the list of policy flops that sounded good at the time and got Rudd lots of kudos from the fawning media only to be found to be hollow in the delivery.

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      • Mike:

        22 Apr 2009 4:26:19pm

        This is a curious comment, Ann. These are most welcome developments. The kids channel was a promise of the Howard government and a key recommendation of the 20/20. It has bipartisan support and I am wondering why is is a sign of 'government impotence' as you suggest. As it has not yet been delivered, I am doubtful about your claim that it has been 'found hollow in the delivery'.

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          • Ann:

            22 Apr 2009 4:38:50pm

            You said it - 'The kids channel was a promise of the Howard government '. Another stolen policy and that was the highlight of 1000 of our brightest minds ???????????????????????

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  • CrankyAllTheTime:

    22 Apr 2009 4:27:52pm

    Is that it!
    That's all that 1000 of the 'best and brightest' could come up with?
    Surely that's not it?

    it's not like these are bad things - just so darn ordinary - and probably in the policy pipeline any way.



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      • MT:

        22 Apr 2009 4:39:11pm

        No thats not it. The rest are yet to be announced. Why the delay? Who knows!!!

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          • Anon.:

            22 Apr 2009 4:59:02pm

            If the current ideas of the ALP are anything to judge by, it is probably because they all sucked.

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          • CrankyAllTheTime:

            22 Apr 2009 5:24:17pm


            If they're trying to build suspense and excitement it could be a wasted effort
            there's not much excitement or 2020-ness in this first installment

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      • Mel:

        22 Apr 2009 4:53:03pm

        When the media tout the ordinary as extraordinary, what do you expect? We've had kids tv and it got shanked. Cultural diversity is already in place in schools. The republic again a recycled idea - is it going to create an extra job (except for lawyers formulating the structure) or contribute to our global economic position? The only thing of note is the medical research - always welcome. But where are the "big bang" ideas and projects from those "1000 greatest minds?"

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      • realist:

        22 Apr 2009 6:09:48pm

        They were not 1000 of "the best and brightest" but 1000 who Rudd wished to be seen with

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  • barefootman:

    22 Apr 2009 4:28:01pm

    Isn't this just ABC Kids mark II?

    Going on memory, the ABC dropped it because it couldn't afford to maintain it and the Howard Govt wouldn't give it more money to continue to run it. Now the Rudd Govt is going to give it money to re-establish it.

    Nothing new under the sun, hey?

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      • Leone:

        22 Apr 2009 4:43:52pm

        It was one of those things the Libs talked about but put into the non-core basket.

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  • wolfkeeng:

    22 Apr 2009 4:34:29pm

    As an Australian student of Asian Studies, I like the idea of a scholarship scheme to promote cultural understanding (nice if they had a broader perpsective, but hey! it's a start). Tragic what has happened to Asian Studies since I first began formal studies in 1994.

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  • Sampson:

    22 Apr 2009 4:38:46pm

    Save the money. Does anyone even watch TV anymore? My kids download all their shows.

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      • Bark:

        22 Apr 2009 5:07:45pm

        Sure! but why would you want your kids to watch it?

        I accidentally caught a "kids" cartoon on the ABC around 4:30 pm last week - It was mostly toilet humour and vomit jokes. Made the Simpsons look about as challenging as an old episode of Skippy.

        If that's childrens TV these days, mine would not be watching it anyway.

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      • maabu:

        22 Apr 2009 5:19:47pm

        Fair comment, but really I think the point of an ABC Kids 'channel' is that a whole lot of extra children's content is funded - for use online (where ABC is doing a fine job already) as well as for TV broadcast.

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  • Stevo:

    22 Apr 2009 4:47:28pm

    Fantastic idea! As if childhood obesity wasn't a big enough problem, a dedicated TV station for kids. Maybe we could get the food industry to sponsor the station because they might be hurting in this recession.....
    $50 Million to develop the bionic eye - now that means that no child will be left behind on the couch unable to watch the new children's TV station.

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  • Steven McDonald:

    22 Apr 2009 4:47:51pm

    this is great news, having 2 young children i have been waiting for this to be implemented.

    this is what the implementation of digital television is all about, making a wider range of programs available at the same time.

    our kids will have choice, it is ashame the commercial channels don't have more varied content on their additional channels.

    chanel one is great, well done ten for this bold move.

    regardless of whether it came from k.rudd's 20/20 vision or not, it is a step in the right direction.

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  • Grownup:

    22 Apr 2009 4:49:11pm

    How about a dedicated channel for adults? There's so much garbage on tv, most of it seems to be aimed at underdeveloped teenagers.

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  • Bananaman:

    22 Apr 2009 5:00:40pm

    Now if only the ABC with could gain back some of the broadcasting rights for cartoons etc. shown in the 80s-mid 90s and then you'd have a veritable ratings boom with the 18-35 crowd as well as performing a cultural education service to these young millenials this new channel would service. But one can only dream.

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  • meg:

    22 Apr 2009 5:10:41pm

    I think that a FT children's channel has the potential to address at least some of the issues surrounding numeracy/literacy results coming out of ELLA and SNAP in recent years. Studies undertaken in the poorer areas of USA where TV is used as a baby-sitter for many hard-working low socio economic parents, have discovered the 'sesame street syndrome'. It was difficult for researchers to understand why some in kids in similar circumstnaces/areas were doing better when they started school than others...they found the common link was the actual stations being watched and tha all the kids who progresssed steadily or speedily had come to school with strong pre-reading skills gleaned from Sesame Street etc and the ones that struggled - hadn't(more cartoon stuff) - even though both sets of parents worked long hours and had poor skills themselves.

    Television has the potential to be a quality learning tool as well as engaging and entertaining. The days of people sitting round the table having a conversation over dinner are gone and if the TV is a fact of life for these kids, then it should be put to better use in providing kids with the sort of general knowledge background and research abilities so necessary for academic success at school and beyond - OFF HE SOAPBOX NOW Cheers

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      • CrankyAllTheTime:

        22 Apr 2009 5:27:27pm

        While I usually love a good acronym or two - what are ELLA and SNAP?

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          • TheApprentice:

            22 Apr 2009 7:57:54pm

            Cranky; ELLA is a basic literacy test for younger years of high school students, years 7 and 8 if memory serves me. SNAP is the same thing, but for numeracy.

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  • realist:

    22 Apr 2009 5:40:59pm

    Sounds good, whats another $50,000,000.00, just a drop in the grand Rudd scheme

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  • Willster:

    22 Apr 2009 5:41:40pm

    Haha. Kids channel, goodo, and bionic eye a worthy cause. But what a fizzer. The 2020 summit was a get together chin wag for a bunch of latte sipping personalities to ponce around patting eachother on the back and a photo opp for Rudd. Meanwhile the country spirals down the gurgler under the neglectful inactive gaze of an incompetent array of ACTU officals. But at least we'll be able to watch bugs bunny.

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  • Dazy:

    22 Apr 2009 5:48:36pm

    1000 minds? Surely there were more ideas than just these. What about the massive fish resource discarded from prawn fishing nets?

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  • d:

    22 Apr 2009 6:01:25pm

    Great idea...ABC 1 dedicated to serious adult programming is a bit too much to hope for as a result of the new channel I expect!

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  • Harry:

    22 Apr 2009 6:02:27pm

    ABC for Kids - Sound good, but will this be another opportunity from the ABC latte sippers and lefties to teach our kids to bow their heads in shame over what happended in January 1788, how bad we some are for not wanting to open the floodgates for millions of boat people, what a wonderful guy David Hicks is, that mining, especially uranium benefits no-one, etc, etc, etc

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  • Marcus :

    22 Apr 2009 6:10:43pm

    what a FANTASTIC idea... about time we invest some money into the future... i look forward to seeing what shows they will add to their already impressive education portfolio!

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  • Tom:

    22 Apr 2009 7:19:02pm

    A dedicated digital channel for ABC Kids is long overdue - it will help drive digital take-up and it will provide parents with the opportunity to allow their children a little television time at any stage of the day without having to be concerned about toy and junk-food advertising.

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  • Peter T.:

    22 Apr 2009 7:23:25pm

    Are we to believe that it took the 2020 Summit to achieve this? Extraordinary waste of money! It was so damn obviously needed it should not have taken an expensive committee to provide the suggestion. Shame on your Rudd. Shame!

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  • Steve:

    22 Apr 2009 7:52:53pm

    And to think that over half of the voters in the last election were conned by this lot of lame brains. 2020 Summit was all about process rather than outcomes. Oh gee Labor make me feel good about myself... such visionaries! I'm so confident about my (and my kids) future... such 'economic conservatives'.

    By the way, i do like the ABC and a kids channel would be good :)

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