Networks snub children’s TV for reality, game shows & branded content

Blind Freddy will tell you that on a multichannel you can't expect bumper numbers.

Australian commercial networks are snubbing Children’s Television, languishing in low level timeslots that attract small audiences.

For the most part Children’s TV is buried on multichannels in early morning timeslots that attract viewership of less than 6000 viewers.

More kids watch The Block, My Kitchen Rules and The Masked Singer than Kitty Is Not a Cat, Drop Dead Weird and Random & Whacky.

Seven, Nine and 10 are pushing the government to relieve them of their obligations to produce original Australian Children’s TV because they draw low audiences. Blind Freddy will tell you that 7:30am on 7TWO you can’t expect bumper numbers. First run drama The Bureau of Magical Things premiered at 10:30 on a Sunday on a multichannel.

Our primary channels are dominated in afternoons by news, game shows, cooking and US soap. On weekends it’s sport, branded content and travel. Meanwhile Nine recently axed Kids WB after 13 years. Saturday Disney was replaced by Home Shopping after 26 years on Seven.

Children’s producers will argue their shows are also given zero promotion -on air promos, bus shelters and radio ads go to the latest reality juggernaut. Clickbait articles ensure they all hog the media conversation.

While the big three networks are driving the push to axe these obligations the #SaveKidsTV campaign has the support of :

Screen Producers Australia
Media and Arts Entertainment Alliance
Australian Directors Guild
Australian Writers Guild
Australian Guild of Screen Composers
Australian Cinematographers Society
Australian Children’s Television Foundation
Australian Council on Children and the Media
Australian Screen Sound Guild
Australian Teachers of Media

Australia has always prided itself on its reputation for Children’s TV -sold in multiple territories and winning awards around the globe. April marks 30 years since Round the Twist, a celebrated classic and international hit.

What shows from 2020 will we still remember in 30 years time?

21 Responses

  1. #SaveKidsTV is an absolute joke, they only care about their free funding been cut. There is more content for children been shown than ever before, due to multi-channels, unfortunately the majority is just endless repeats.

    Back in the 2000s we only had Nine showing new cartoon series for children during the middle of the night, but you didn’t hear any uproar back then, because they were overseas series.

  2. Commercial Networks Seven, Nine and Ten can show the Kids/Children’s programs at Midday on Saturdays on the Main Channel.!?
    There is nothing else at that time that’s important, so they can easily put it there if they wanted to.

  3. I can see both sides of the story.

    Yes, children’s shows are shoved on the secondary channels at the moment. But surely the main channels can fit an hours or so worth of children programs a week. Even if its before Weekend Sunrise/ Today in the 6-7am slots. More viewership there than the multi-channels. Or air after the weekend shows where the “morning show highlights” are shown on the 3 commercial stations.

  4. “Seven, Nine and 10 are pushing the government to relieve them of their obligations to produce original Australian Children’s TV because they draw low audiences”. They purposely put children’s shows into the most obscure slots on ‘secondary’ channels, with no promotion whatsoever – compared to the promos for other programs on 7Two etc., so no one knows it’s even being broadcast, so networks can then claim ‘but nobody watches it’. They should be forced to air so much on their ‘primary’ channels. Oh wait, there are no timeslots. All taken by so-called ‘advertorial’ hours and hours of recycled ‘news’.

    1. Local quotas used to be mandated for primary channels, but networks complained and the govt gave them the flexibility to broadcast on multichannels. That was hailed by everyone as common sense. Years down the track, networks are now claiming nobody is watching so therefore they shouldn’t be forced to make them. The policy is in effect backfiring.

  5. Seems to be the case the world over that broadcasters are doing the minimal when it comes to children’s TV – then wonder a few years later why people aren’t watching their content.

  6. I can sadly see a time coming where it is just left up to the ABC, while I don’t agree with it I can see the reasons why the Commercial Networks are asking for this change.

    Advertising rules may play a part as it is a lot more strict than in the days of watching when we did based on shows mentioned in other posts, especially during C and P programs (and once Fast Food and Fizzy/Drink Advertising is banned the revenue will be all but gone).

    For C and P: legislation.gov.au/Details/F2014C01386 if you pop down to Part 3.


    C band means the following periods of time:
    (a) 7.00am to 8.30am Monday to Friday;
    (b) 4.00pm to 8.30pm Monday to Friday;
    (c) 7.00am to 8.30pm Saturday, Sunday and school holidays.

    And what is allowed in say C Drama and etc., a lot of what we watched would not be allowed now, Shirl’s Neighbourhood would fail and have to not have Claude The Crow and the same with Aggro’s Cartoon Connection (Part 3: CTS 25 Unsuitable material).

  7. This makes me so sad for the kids of today. They don’t know what they’re missing out on. I have so many fond memories of Australian kids TV in the 90’s, especially the live action sci-fi dramas like The Girl From Tomorrow, Spellbinder, Ocean Girl and The Miraculous Mellops. These shows were sold all over the world! Then there were the brilliant game shows like Vidiot, Now You See It and A*Mazing. Ahhh the memories…

    1. Loved Spellbinder and with that being a Polish and Australian Co-Production maybe that is the way forward for the Commercial Networks, why not some Australian New Zealand or Australian Canadian Co-Productions to keep costs down.

    2. More like there was nothing better to watch at the time, try re-visiting any of these series, without the nostalgia glasses. Spellbinder was one of the worst, I watched the repeats due to missing the initial screening, and the amount of times they were caught and freed was absolutely ridiculous. These series reeked of their time periods, and have aged very poorly too.

      Even Round the Twist is a struggle to watch, compared to the excellent stories of the novels.

  8. I used to enjoy things such as Skippy (the 1992 version with Andrew Clarke), Now You See It (with both Mike Meade and later Sofie Formica) and when a little younger, John Hamblin on Play School- he kept the adults entertained with his subtle humour, especially when he did an episode with Noni Hazlehurst. I remember when he did a Tutti Frutti dance, my grandmother was in stitches when she watched it with me.

  9. I get it, but if you isolated this generation from watching your station, they will have no association or attachment to your brand in the futureand that could be quite costly more than now.

    1. Not isolated. David pointed out more kids are watching The Block, MKR and Masked Singer. They’re watching the Network….just not Children’s content on that same Network

  10. I see the argument for the networks. Viewer habits have changed with the times. Still think they need to air some children programs. These days there is vast array of media options and channel selection and add that to internet services/options that has for kids today it has to be stuff for the free to Airers.

  11. No show from 7 or 10 will he remembers in 30 years time. MAFS will be remembered culturally, but surely nothing will be remembered other than streaming services, and maybe an ABC comedy or drama.

    The state of Australian TV networks is dismal. This argument about relaxing kids tv is a testament that networks have no allegiance to Australia, only advertising

  12. I feel sad for kids of this generation. In the 80’s and 90’s we were spoilt for choice of kids TV on all the commercial channels after school. 7 had Shirl’s Neighbourhood and Wombat. 9 had Ossie Ostrich Video Show and 10 had Simon Townsends Wonder World and Off The Dish. All quality programs that we used to rush home from school to watch. Shirl’s Neighbourhood was particularly well made, never spoke down to kids, was imaginative, entertaining and funny and also educational. Parents used to watch it with their kids for the humour that went over kids heads. Now all kids have is the horrors of the daily news and a soap opera. The excuse of kids don’t watch TV anymore is lazy. Build it and they will come. Give the kids a reason to watch and make it speak to them and they will watch.

  13. Shows like Bluey and Little Lunch so the commercial networks that children’s TV works! Bluey is being sold internationally for example. I remember coming home after school and watching TV. Eg Agro and there was one with a duck or something (a white puppet figure). Was it Come On Kids? 4pm was kids TV on all networks. It’s like the commercial networks have got lazy and rely on the ABC to have designated channels. The commercial networks should produce kids TV and show it at a suitable time. It’s their own fault that hardly anyone watches it given when it is shown and where.

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