CBBC - History

History

The BBC has produced and broadcast programmes for children since the 1930s. The first children-specific strand on BBC television was For The Children, first broadcast on what was then the single 'BBC Television Service' on Saturday 24 April 1937; it was only ten minutes long. It lasted for two years before being taken off air when the service closed due to the Second World War in September 1939.

Following the war, For the Children recommenced on Sunday 7 July 1946, with a twenty minute slot every Sunday afternoon and the addition of programmes for pre-school children under the banner For The Very Young., and over the years they became an established feature of the early afternoons on the BBC's main channel BBC One.

In 1952, the "For The Children" / "For The Very Young" branding was dropped; older children's programmes (such as Blue Peter 1958) would now be introduced by regular announcers whilst younger children's programming was broadcast under the Watch With Mother banner. The 1964 launch of BBC Two allowed additional room for children's programming with an edition of Play School technically being the first official programme to air on BBC Two due to a power cut blacking out most of the previous night's programming. On 1 October 1980, Watch With Mother was replaced by See-Saw, which was moved to BBC2 five years later.

Meanwhile, weekday afternoon children's programmes on BBC One were introduced by the usual off-screen continuity announcer, though often specially-designed menus and captions would be used. On 9 September 1985, this long-standing block of children's programming was rebranded as Children's BBC, and for the first time the children's block had dedicated idents and an in-vision presenter. Previously the BBC had broadcast children's programming using BBC1's team of regular duty announcers. The launch presenter for this block, and thus the first Children's BBC presenter of the current format, was Phillip Schofield.

During the 1990s, Children's BBC began to be referred to informally on-air as 'CBBC' (this occurred at around the same time that ITV's rival service "Children's ITV" began to be referred to as CITV in a similar manner). The official billing name of Children's BBC remained in place, however, until the BBC's network-wide branding refresh of October 1997, when the official on-air branding changed to CBBC. (CITV officially adopted their short name in their own branding refresh the following year).

Further changes to the schedule were rolled out during the 1990s and 2000s, including the introduction of Sunday morning programmes on BBC Two, initially in the Open University's summer break and then subsequently year-round; the introduction of a regular weekday morning 'breakfast show' format, also on BBC Two; the relocation of the 10am pre-school slot to BBC Two and the relocation of the 1pm pre-school slot to run on BBC One at the start of the afternoon block. "Roar", "Newsround" and "Tracy Beaker" The launch of digital channel BBC Choice in 1998 saw the channel broadcasting children's programming in a Saturday afternoon slot which was subsequently replaced by the daily 6am-7pm service CBBC on Choice, which aired archive pre-school programming and was itself the precursor of the current CBBC Channel and CBeebies services.

In 2002, the launch of the CBBC Channel and the CBeebies Channel saw a wide variety of programmes, both new and archive, being shown again on the new channels from 6/7am until 7pm.

In 2005, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Tessa Jowell, was questioned in the House of Commons as to whether a public service broadcaster should really be broadcasting "lavatorial" humour. Ms Jowell responded that it was the Government's job to develop a charter for the BBC; and then the BBC's job to determine standards of taste, decency and appropriateness.

In 2009, a report published by the BBC Trust found that scheduling changes which took place in February 2008, where programming ended at 17:15, had led to a decrease in viewers. This was especially noticeable for Blue Peter and Newsround, two of CBBC's flagship programmes; Blue Peter is now recording its lowest viewing numbers since it started in 1958, and Newsround now receives fewer than 100,000 viewers compared to 225,000 in 2007. The changes were made following the BBC's loss of the rights to soap opera Neighbours, which had for many years been broadcast between the end of CBBC and the start of the 6pm news; when the decision to move daytime editions of The Weakest Link from BBC Two to One to fill the gap, CBBC had to move to an earlier slot, as Weakest Link" is longer than Neighbours was.

As part of the Delivering Quality First proposals submitted by the BBC in October 2011 and approved by the BBC Trust in May 2012, all children's programming on BBC One and Two would be moved permanently to the CBBC and CBeebies channels following the digital switchover. It was found that the majority of child viewers watched the programmes on these channels already and that only 7% of these children watched CBBC programmes on BBC One and Two only.

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