Children's channel mixes fun, learning

Aljazeera has launched a new channel dedicated solely to children.

    Bouneb says the channel wants to help children be good citizens

    Based in Doha, with five regional offices, the Children's Channel has a staff of around 235 from more than 30 nationalities with an average age of under 30.

    The channel's organisers say they are aiming to provide a combination of education and entertainment for an audience that they feel has been bombarded with unsuitable material.

    The channel will feature debates, news and educational shows for children aged between three and 15.

    Aljazeera.net spoke to Executive General Manager Mahmoud Bouneb on the sidelines of the Children's Channel inauguration.

    Aljazeera.net: What is the emphasis of the channel?

    The emphasis is on "edutainment" - education and entertainment. Education is at schools, and the kids, usually when they watch TV, they are looking first for entertainment.

    If you can build up with entertainment an educational message, I think you can achieve a great deal of balance in what you present to the viewers.

    Will the debates and educational programmes tackle any controversial issues? Are you planning anything revolutionary in children's television? 

    I don't think they are revolutionary. Kids at school are facing all kinds of issues - be they religion, sexual education, behaviour, social balance, history, geography or whatever.

    The channel will air programmes
    on religion and current affairs

    But the goal of this channel is not to replace or to take the school's place. We will try to present something that will strike a balance - to be part of the social tissue and the need of a child to be a child.

    A child is a child, but let's prepare him to be a good citizen and a constructive citizen and positive citizen.

    They are not controversial issues, it's part of life. Education is not a controversial issue. On the channel we have debates, we have magazines, we have current affairs, and we are trying to be always balanced and to prepare children in dealing with those issues.

    But we are not looking to be controversial. We are looking to be as consensual as possible because the education of the children, the well-being of the children, is something which can't be compromised.

    How much of your programming will be in-house production?

    We are having six hours of fresh programming daily, which is a high rate for a thematic channel, a channel addressing children. We have three hours of acquisitions and about three hours of in-house programming or outside from executive producers.

    How do you fit in with the other Aljazeera ventures?

    The channel was launched with
    the Qatar Foundation

    Aljazeera started nine years ago with the Arabic channel. Then they started with the sports channel, and they have the international and  documentary channels coming up. And we have the Children's Channel, which has been launched in partnership with the Qatar Foundation, which is headed by Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bin Nasser al-Missned [wife of the amir of Qatar] and Aljazeera.

    Aljazeera is a network, it is not any more a news channel. It's a brand that is diversifying its activities.

    Will the channel have any advertising?

    We will be open to advertisement, but I can tell you with our content we will have to be very selective. Our goal is not to make a commercial channel. Our goal is to make a educational, successful channel open to the market and open to the public.

    Are there plans to have a children's channel in English?

    We are thinking about having in the second and third year of broadcasting a window in English and a window in French - maybe about half an hour each day. But there is an idea to have something in English.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


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