TVNZ6 axed as TVNZ launches new Kiwi kids digital TV channel

New Zealand’s public broadcaster TVNZ will launch a new commercial-funded youth-targeted digital TV channel next year, after deciding to axe current advert-free service TVNZ6.

The new channel will launch next March and is yet to be named. It will focus on “social TV” according to the broadcaster, including reality TV and factual programming and will have a strong online presence.

TVNZ Head of Digital Channels, Eric Kearley, said: "There's a group of young New Zealanders not being served by traditional free to air television and we believe a well conceived youth channel will be able to connect with them. MTV has closed its New Zealand operations and C4 is changing to an older skewed channel so there is an audience and advertisers who want to talk with them."

TVNZ6, along with sister news channel TVNZ7, are currently funded by the New Zealand government to the tune of NZ$79 million over five years. But that funding is due to expire in the 2011-12 financial year and it is unclear the extent to which it will be renewed. The original sum was awarded as part of the government’s drive to push homes towards digital TV.

TVNZ7 will remain advert-free until mid 2012 and some of TVNZ6’s programming for younger children will switch to that service. The expanded TVNZ7 will also contain a commitment to arts and cultural programming.