LONDON — CITV, the kids department of U.K. commercial web ITV, has poached Estelle Hughes, the deputy head of BBC acquisitions and CBBC co-productions.
ITV has created a position at CITV to bolster its kids programming, which has been struggling to compete with CBBC. Hughes will become head of CITV programming and will report to Steven Andrew, controller of children’s and youth fare.
The genre is a priority for ITV’s new network director, Nigel Pickard, who has worked at CITV and CBBC.
When Pickard left CITV two years ago, it had a 31% share of the kid audience. Now it is down to 18% and sometimes falls as low as 8%. CITV has been hit by the launch of digital webs CBeebies and CBBC, CBBC’s hiked budget and a flight by kids to satellite channels.
The appointment will be a blow to CBBC boss Theresa Plummer-Andrews, who is expected to retire early next year.
Hughes is understood to have left the Beeb on Friday, but for contractual reasons is unlikely to join ITV until the fall.
Prior to joining the Beeb, Hughes spent three years as head of acquisitions and development at Disney U.K. and before that was an acquisition exec for satcaster Sky Television.