PBS packs digital net for youngsters

24-hour channel skedded for fall launch

PBS will launch a 24-hour digital broadcast channel this fall, targeted at early elementary-age school kids.

Net will air the new PBS Kids Go! Channel beginning in October, building on the success of its afternoon kids programming block PBS Kids Go! Net has seen a 17% increase in national viewership among 6- to 8-year-olds.

Four original shows will preem on the channel, as well as several that will transfer from the current roster.

New series include “Kidsworld Sports,” which follows the stories of exceptional young athletes; “Wishbone,” a live-action series featuring a pooch who loves to teach youngsters the joy of reading; “Kratts’ Creatures,” a nature show exploring critters both exotic and domestic; and “Animalia,” a CGI adventure story skedded to air in 2007.

“Fetch,” a spoofy reality-gameshow with an animated canine host called Ruff Ruffman, will preem in May as part of the PBS Kids Go! block, but will join the new channel in October, alongside other PBS alumni “Maya & Miguel,” “Postcards From Buster,” “Arthur,” “Cyberchase,” “Zoom” and “Dragonfly TV.”

New channel will feature three programming blocks, including “Vayan,” a one hour Spanish-language block in which existing shows are broadcast in Spanish with English subtitles; “Go! Family,” designed to encourage family co-viewing; and “Go! Figure,” an hour of undiluted education based on a specific curriculum, such as science.

Channel is the first in a series of broader moves PBS is making as part of its five-year Next Generation Media initiative, which is designed to address the changing face of kids’ media.