Children’s programmes are to cease being shown on BBC1 and BBC2, the BBC Trust has confirmed. Digital children’s channels CBBC and CBeebies will be their new home.
“After digital switchover, children’s output will solely be broadcast on the digital channels, CBBC and CBeebies, which all audiences will have access to,” the BBC Trust said in its final conclusions on the BBC’s cost-cutting drive, Delivering Quality First.
“The number of children watching the dedicated blocks of children’s programming on BBC1 and BBC2 is low and has fallen significantly over recent years,” the Trust said, adding: “Only around 7 per cent of CBBC’s target audience currently watch CBBC content on BBC1 and BBC2 but do not also watch CBBC.”
News that Blue Peter was to be axed by BBC1 was immediately met with hysterical despair on Twitter, but the venerable magazine show is already primarily a CBBC property: in January it was cut to one episode a week, premiering on the specialist children’s channel on Thursdays, with BBC1 carrying a repeat on Friday.
The BBC confirmed that more six- to 12-year-old viewers currently watch the CBBC broadcast of Blue Peter – and that it will now be broadcast all year round.
“The change in scheduling of Blue Peter does not represent any change to the amount of airtime or budget we devote to the show over the course of the year,” BBC Children’s director Joe Godwin said. “We remain completely committed to the programme and, by moving to 52 weeks a year, now have even more flexibility and scope to cover the events and activities that matter most to children.”
Eighty-nine per cent of UK homes, most recently in London, have now had their old analogue signal closed down and are watching via Freeview, satellite or cable – all of which carry CBBC and CBeebies.
Last to undergo this change will be parts of Kent in the Meridian region, followed by the Tyne Tees region and Northern Ireland.