CBBC will target teenagers through extending its broadcasting hours to 9pm and airing programmes it hopes will attract audiences following the closure of Blast, the BBC’s previous strand of programmes for teen audiences.
When the BBC announced it was closing Blast, its strand of teen orientated programmes, it said it was leaving Channel Four to serve the audience group. Channel Four through programmes such as Hollyoaks, As If, Skins and Misfits has always been able to better serve the teen audiences than BBC counterparts and this was widely seen why the corporation was retreating from the difficulties of creating programmes teenagers want to watch. However, although the closure of Blast will still go ahead the teenage audience won’t be completely abandoned by the BBC.
According to Broadcast the BBC is planning to use part of the extra budget allocated to CBBC to boost teen audiences for the channel. The plans include extending the channels broadcast hours to 9pm (currently CBBC closesdown at 7pm) and these extra two hours of broadcast would be used to target teens – as younger audiences would no longer be watching. The plans need to be approved by the BBC Trust first and could prompt criticisms that CBBC was crossing over into BBC Three’s remit (of young audiences, although admittedly older that teenagers). The plans could also be criticised as extending the broadcasting hours to 9pm could result in younger audiences staying up later to continue to watch the channel with programmes that might not be suitable for them.
While the BBC has pledged to invest more money into children’s programming it is one area of great concern for many with the decline of the children’s market in the past 10 years. The CITV strand of programming on ITV1 has been removed completely with repeats of Midsomer Murders or Heartbeat airing instead. Viewers wishing to watch CITV programmes now have to do so exclusively through its digital channel on weekdays. The BBC has also come under criticism for scaling back CBBC’s strand of programmes on BBC One in the evenings to accommodate The Weakest Link when it moved to BBC One. However, programmes such as The Sarah Jane Adventures has also given the corporation much praise from the press and producers.