ABC3 takes on Pay channels

abc3kdWith last week’s unveiling of the kid’s channel ABC3, and the preschool offering ABC for Kids on ABC2, the public broadcaster has a tempting offering for families with digital television.

There are World Premieres, Australian Premieres, new kid’s presenters -even Live TV. It’s a smorgasboard of choice.

ABC TV’s Director of Television Kim Dalton tells TV Tonight as Pay TV has grown there has been a fracturing of audiences into genre-specific channels, even for children.

“In the area of kids inevitably that’s what was beginning to happen in the subscription base,” he says. “And I stress I’m not being critical of these channels. They do what they do very well, but they are primarily franchised channels from the US and the UK. I’m all in favour of choice but I’m about part of that choice being local culture and local content. The ABC is the obvious organisation that can provide that.

“When I got here a few years ago the amount of (kid’s) material being commissioned by the ABC was quite limited, but that’s exacerbated by the fact that when you’re running one channel you’ve only got a certain amount of hours in the day that you can put children’s materials on,” he says.

“Clearly we have an adult audience coming in at 6:00 at night and that’s when we were signing off on our children’s television offering. That’s the very time that kids are finishing their homework or getting back from their after-school activities and starting to watch TV in larger numbers.”

The new offerings will unashamedly compete with Pay TV channels Disney, Nickelodeon, CBeebies and Kids Co.

“Once households go subscription. children migrate to those dedicated children’s channels. What the ABC will do as of December 4th in those households will provide an alternative. During the day we’ll be offering ABC for Kids on ABC2 and for the school age kids we’ll be offering ABC3 right through until 9:00 at night.”

But with the move comes questions over the remainder of its audience: adults.  During the daytime two of its three channels will be aimed at kids, and while programming remains on ABC1, at some points in the day there will be children’s television across all 3 channels simultaneously.

Dalton is quick to compare the ABC with broadcasters internationally and in Pay TV.

“An essential part of children’s television is that you provide content in the pre-school area and you provide content in the school age area. That’s what happens across all the major subscription offerings. That’s what the BBC does, that’s what other broadcasters do around the world. You’ve got very distinct ages, very distinct tastes, very distinct programming,” he defends.

“It’s quite true that there will be periods of the day where there will be children’s content across all three channels but that’s an interim arrangement. We can’t just suddenly pull the children’s content off ABC1. There are still 40% plus households in Australia who have not made the switch to digital.”

Spanning broad genres including reality, games, music, factual, entertainment, drama, animation, news and more, ABC3 will launch with 40% Australian content. But despite some original commissions, some Australian producers in the children’s arena are said to be disappointed their back catalogues were overlooked for new international titles.

“It’s obviously more expensive for us to acquire that material than it is to acquire material internationally.” Dalton says. “Within our budget constraints we’ve maximised the amount of Australian back catalogue that we’ve purchased, as well as international material and commissioning new material. We have to juggle our budgets.

“The priority is commissioning new material, the second is to relicense Australian back catalogue and the third priority is to buy-in a range of content that’s available internationally.”

Dalton says it is simply cheaper for the broadcaster to purchase titles internationally than to re-license loccal titles.

“One of the issues is we have about Australian drama is that the producers have to go back and pay residuals on the performing rights. There’s a much more complex rights equation that goes on when you re-license Australian content than if you’re simply picking up acquired material internationally.”

When ABC3 launches, one of its key attractions will be Studio 3, a live daily morning show hosted by Amberley Lobo and Kayne Tremills. The two will host games, competitions, guests and more. Dalton says the show will offer an opportunity for the channel to speak with its audience.

“There will be 2-3 hours of live material that will be coming out of there everyday.

“It will be fast and furious.”


  1. @Janine – Parents are too afraid to let their children play outside anymore thanks to all the fear spread by the collective media and government. This is the culture we now live in. TV and video games are not to blame.

  2. That was really frustrating to read!

    I can’t believe they’re going ahead with *expanded* kids programming on ABC2! Until recently, ABC2 were airing Australia Network’s ‘Asia Pacific News’ & ‘Business Today’ between 9am & 10am weekdays which will now never come back if they go with kids programming. What other FTA network offers news (in English) between 9am & 11am weekdays?

    I understand ABC1 have to be left alone until their analogue signal is switched off in 2012. But ABC3 should be airing tween/school-age programming from 6am to 9am weekdays, then go with pre-school stuff from 9am to around 3pm (??) & then go back to tween & teenage programming until 9pm or something.

    Please ABC! Tax payers with functioning brains want ABC2 all to themselves… Pretty plaese! Even if they do a GO! & just re-run the night before’s prime-time programming from either ABC1 or ABC2. SBS1’s afternoon line-up is the only thing worth watching if you’re not into cooking or adults talking to each other like they’re five years-old…

  3. tasmanian devil

    Good to see this issue cleared up a little, but it still seems to me that they haven’t thought it through enough. I see their points (not everyone has digital TV yet, school aged kids and preschoolers are different markets, etc.) but that isn’t really a sufficient excuse to broadcast kids TV on all channels at the same time, and the ABC could manage their schedule a lot better. A simple solution to all of this is to leave everything as it is at the moment, and wait until digital switch-over time to carry out their master plan. By that time, an ideal and tidy schedule would be:
    News Breakfast moves to ABC 1, followed by general programming. ABC 2 carries all preschoolers programs (6am-6pm 7 days a week). ABC 3 has content for older kids and also becomes the new home for the education programs (Mon-Fri 9am-3pm).
    You are right in that schools view ABC educational programs as part of their curriculum, but this (wrongly) has nothing to do with ABC’s childrens programming. In fact they make an effort to distance the educational childrens TV with non-educational. A good example is 10am weekdays on ABC 1. A voice over says “To watch more of your favourite shows, flick over now to ABC 2” right before the educational programs begin, which is rather deplorable, and encouraging kids to not watch educational TV. As I said, the right idea would be to have educational programs on ABC 3 from 9am-3pm.

  4. Even if ABC3 only showed school aged children’s programming during school holidays and something else outside of school holidays you would have the childrens’ programming on most of the time given that school holidays are different in every state.

  5. Baffles me that it is easier to buy international titles rather than re-license our own content. Why are things so complex with our system of local content and licensing? Most producers, directors, writers are happy to offer their content to new audiences, you just have to look at all the vast amount of material that has been curated from our local talent in the ACMI screen worlds exhibition. Adam Elliot donated his Oscar even. Heartbreak High for example seems to be very prominent across Europe in re-runs, but the last time it was on air was early 2000’s on a saturday morning timeslot, and that was the last series. Isn’t Australia one of the biggest producers of children’s television in the world? And most of this came from the ABC. Round the Twist, Wayne Manifesto, Genie from Down Under, all international successes. And yes, although 9 are playing Skippy, Spyforce ect in metro, WIN plays Crawfords classics but metro cannot because of some sort of rights issue regarding payments for actors in metro. And not many people are willing to stay up until 2am. Obviously it all comes down to one thing, money.

  6. I have to agree even though I am not a Parent of School Age Children About The Point of Showing School Age Kids Shows when except for School Holidays they are not home to watch them.It is a waste of time.
    Someone forget to mention about people who are homeschooled in this.

  7. quokka:
    There has been no mention of educational content even been shown on the ABC3 during the daytime on weekdays so far.

    The few educational shows (ie Behind The News) that are shown at schools, are on the ABC1, and will continue to be on the ABC1, until analogue TV is turned off in the future I expect.

  8. Um…I not sure if any of you have been to school, or have school age kids, but classes watch ABC at school as part of the curriculum. There are educational and current events shows. Hence the need to show school age shows during the school term.

  9. The ideal solution would be for ABC3 to show school aged kids programing before 9am and after 3pm weekdays. From 9am – 3pm when kids are in school, they could play documentaries which would appeal to kids and adults.

    Daytime TV is full of soaps, infotainment programs and US chat shows. Give us a choice to watch something more real life and educational. The fact im at work, I don’t really care, but I still would like my ABC money to go to some use!

  10. The ABC needs a new director, this one obviously doesn’t have a clue. I’m tired of the bias for Australia content no matter what the quality. The ABC frequently wastes money by buying Australia series, that have already been shown by commercial TV networks.

    Most of the Australian content for kids is terrible, compared to international markets. Both recent shows (ie Blue Water High) and older shows (ie Round the Twist Series 3/4) . Australian content should be bought on quality, so the local market is forced to produced more quality content.

    The ABC doesn’t offer any competition to Pay-TV channels, there is little new content shown, and endless repeats (especially on the ABC2). While several new cartoon series, are still been limited to their iView service.

    Why is the any need for school age content during the daytime of weekdays, when the kids will be at school? mixed content could easily be shown on the ABC2 during the school holidays instead.

    I don’t see the new content announced for the ABC3 making any real difference at all, when there is little variety provided, and that content will need to be spread over three channels, for a least a year (until next funding).

    It looks more and more like the ABC3 will offer little new content or variety, only more endless repeats (of Australia series I expect). With more and more kids, not watch the ABC’s channels at all.

  11. What is going to happen with ABC HD? With ABC3, there won’t be enough bitrate for a decent HD channel. Will ABC stick with 720p resolution for HD? It’s already been previously downgraded from 1080i. Surely they won’t dare to degrade it further to 576p?

  12. @Richard W – actually you’ll find that CBeebies and CBBC actually are broadcast on (BBC1) BBC3 and BBC4 during the day, and then BBC Three and BBC Four programming kicks in about tea time. But i agree with the point that, obviously there is scope to appeal to kids on both ABC1 (only ABC analogue channel) and ABC3 (dedicated digital kids channel) but keep ABC2 for a more adult audience

  13. Yeh leaving school aged stuff on ABC3 during the school term is just plain silly, they could easily put pre-school stuff on ABC3 during the terms, then during school holidays shift that to ABC2 and put school aged programming on ABC3 during the day.

  14. Jason, don’t forget he said:

    “It’s quite true that there will be periods of the day where there will be children’s content across all three channels but that’s an interim arrangement. We can’t just suddenly pull the children’s content off ABC1. There are still 40% plus households in Australia who have not made the switch to digital.”


  15. I think its ridiculous that the ABC are programming kids programming across all three channels, I can understand that they need to have younger kids programming and tween programming – why not do something like….

    Analogue ABC – As per current lineup.

    ABC 1 – No kids programming, move Breakfast over from 2 to 1.
    ABC 2 – Tween programming to top and tail the day (as per Analogue ABC)
    ABC 3 – Younger children’s programmings (as per Nick Jr, Playhouse Disney etc)

    The only issue this arrangement brings about is that ABC 1 on digital and the analogue ABC signal would be out of sync – branding wouldn’t be an issue as ABC brand their children’s programming separately.

    Its just very messy the way things are at the moment…

  16. What is the point of screening programmes for school age children during the hours they are at school? Surely, the ABC should shift its pre-school programmes from ABC2 to ABC3 between, say, 8.30 a.m. and 3.30 p.m. and use ABC2 to broadcast programmes of interest to adults.

  17. “That’s what the BBC does”. Yes that may be true but the BBC in England also have BBC 1, 2, 3 and 4 as well as the two kids channels.

    Yes give choice for kids, but what about choice for adults too who are paying for it? Whats the point in showing school age kids shows during the day when they should be in school!? Doesn’t make sense…

  18. Geez, why so much kids TV?? I can’t believe that at some stages it’s going to be on 3 channels at once.

    Why not change ABC2 to be more adult throughout the day?
    Why not a music channel – I mean they have rage already – just extend this for 24 hours?
    Why not a news channel – this would be good for the ABC to do?

    Again, why so much focus on kids?????

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.