ITV has made the decision to discontinue its children's channel, CITV, after it has been on the air for 40 years.
The channel will cease broadcasting later this year and will be replaced by ITV's new streaming service, ITVX.
The ITVX Kids section is set to launch in July 2023, with CITV is expected to be removed from TV channels by the fall.
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The managing director of ITV, Craig Morris, expressed excitement about the launch of the dedicated kids' destination on ITVX, which will feature a variety of content for different age groups.
The content will be available to stream for free, with the option to subscribe to ITVX Premium for ad-free viewing.
ITV has stated that the decision to axe CITV was due to its unprofitability and the decrease in children's TV audiences over recent years, largely due to the popularity of YouTube and other streaming services.
British children's average viewing time for children's TV channels has decreased by 62% since 2019, according to ITV.
The BBC has also announced plans to make its CBBC channel online-only, although CBeebies will continue to air on TV.
Some in the industry believe that the ban on advertising junk food to children in 2006 is responsible for the decline in children's TV programming on commercial outlets.
This has resulted in reduced budgets, along with the shift to online viewing.
One possible solution is to provide public funding for children's programming.
The government has already provided £44m of public funding over three years for children's programming through the young audiences content fund.
This funding is intended to help commercial broadcasters such as ITV and Channel 5 to commission new shows.
ITV's spending on children's programming has drastically decreased since CITV's launch as a standalone channel in 2006, going from about £35m a year to just a few million a year after almost two decades.
As part of ITV's plans, the long-standing CITV brand will mostly vanish from screens, except for some early morning programming on ITV2 and ITVBe.
Although some original CITV series, like The Rubbish World of Dave Spud, which is set in Grimsby, will still be produced and shown on the streaming service, new commissions are being evaluated.
Fans shared their devastation at the news as one said: "It really hurts to see that Freeview children’s TV channels are being axed one by one and moved to online streaming sites. channels like CITV helped families who couldn’t afford internet and therefore cable, allowing for their children to still have easy access to entertainment."
Another added: "Gutted to hear they're axing CITV from ITV, yes I was a CITV kid, they brought out soo many hit shows in their prime."
A third chipped in: "RIP Citv. Back in the day I was absolutely obsessed with Pokemon, My Parents Are Aliens, Jungle Run and Digimon to name a few. I actually don't think I would be working in animation if it wasn't for these incredible shows!"
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