Are Canadian babies ready for
their own TV channel?
January 30, 2007
A TV channel aimed at babies under age three that has
caused controversy in the U.S. and U.K. could soon be
launched in Canada.
The CRTC, the federal regulator in charge of television,
has approved the channel for distribution and Rogers
Cable, one of Canada's largest cable carriers, is
considering carrying it.
"We're having discussions with the channel to offer it
to our customers," said Nancy Cottenden, a spokeswoman
for Rogers, which serves viewers in Ontario and New
The channel offers commercial-free, educational
programming that encourages interaction between parent
and child, the broadcasters say. It would be available
with a subscription fee.
But experts in child development say infants and
toddlers should not be left in front of a television.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says infants and
toddlers need to play and talk with others, and should
be kept away from TV.
A 2003 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a
U.S.-based independent health think-tank, found that 68
per cent of American children under age two watch TV or
BabyFirstTV launched in the U.S. last May and the BabyTV
channel has been available in the U.K. since October.
Dr. Edward McCabe, president of the American Pediatric
Society and a member of the advisory board for
BabyFirstTV, says if children are watching, they need
McCabe says he supports age-appropriate programming that
has been designed with input from child-development
"The studies all show that babies are watching TV," he
said. "So let's provide babies and their families with
the right content."
The Canadian version of BabyTV, available in both
official languages, has short segments that are easier
to understand for young children and claims to avoid the
rapid flash and noise of regular TV programming.
Instead it features baby songs, animated segments,
soothing music and gentle colours in the evening to help
babies sleep, and games and activities parents and
children can do together.
A Canadian competitor that had a similar channel
proposal called BabyHD says it is disappointed the CRTC
approved a channel with no homegrown shows.
"We are hugely disappointed with the CRTC's decision,"
said David Patterson, senior vice-president of High
Fidelity HDTV Inc. in Toronto. "We're back to having to
consider our alternatives."
BabyTV, based in the U.K., is pre-packaged and already
shown in more than a dozen countries. It applied to the
CRTC a month ahead of Patterson's BabyHD.
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