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Children seen as vital to success; Media S4C: Continuing to attract young viewers.

Siwan Jobbins, S4C's commissioner for children's programmes, talks about her plans for one of the channel's most important audiences

THE expansion in children's TV channels, from retro Boomerang to hip Nickelodeon to the newly launched CBBC, means children are no longer limited to what the main terrestrial channels have on offer and can enjoy a wider viewing choice than ever before.

Competition is fierce and as the mother of two young children myself I dread the time when they become old enough to bicker over the remote control.

Operating in such a competitive marketplace may seem intimidating, but children are a key audience to all broadcasters and since its launch 20 years ago S4C has worked hard to carve a niche for itself in children's programming.

Thanks to my predecessor Meirion Davies, now S4C's head of talent development, I have a strong base on which to build.

Award-winning programming and growing international sales show that S4C children's output can compete with the best of what the rest have on offer.

A new timetable launched this year is proving popular, offering almost twice as many programmes as previously broadcast.

The newly-branded weekday lunchtime nursery slot, Planed Plant Bach, has been extended by 15 minutes while weekday afternoons has seen older children's programming, under the Planed Plant banner, double.

The expansion of S4C's children's programmes output, and the strengthening of brand loyalty with this most important of audiences, is our long-term aim. The channel is supported in this by experienced and creative programme-makers and presenters.

Planed Plant is recognised as something of a talent hot house, and many of our presenters work for other channels, for example Y Rhaglen Wirion 'Na presenter Rhodri Owen works on Wish You Were Here, while Popty's Sarra Elgan can be seen on CBBC's Saturday Show Extra.

Significantly, these presenters retain their links with Wales and continue to work for the channel - a measure of their commitment to, and confidence in, S4C.

"Added value" to programmes, in the form of websites, schools' tours, and campaigns strengthens the links with viewers.

S4C's presence at events such as the Urdd Eisteddfod, along with a summer and Christmas tour, also give viewers an opportunity to meet their heroes and feel part of the Planed Plant and Planed Plant Bach universe.

Involving viewers, and providing a platform for their talent and their voices, is all-important.

As S4C gears up to celebrate its twentieth anniversary special programmes have been commissioned for younger viewers.

A top twenty children's TV compilation is under way, while a TV musical featuring Bafta award-winning Tecwyn Tractor and other favourites such as Sali Mali, Bwgan, and Rhacsyn is sure to be a hit.

Children's programming is vital to the channel's success - the Planed Plant viewers of today are the Pobol y Cwm viewers of tomorrow - and I will be working closely with colleagues to make use of the wealth of talent we have in Wales to create series which will continue to attract young viewers throughout the country and further afield.

Lifelines Aged 32, Siwan Jobbins was born in Zambia, and brought up in Cardiff, where she attended Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantaf.

In 1990 after graduating in drama from University of Wales, Aberystwyth she joined Heno.

She joined the channel from Avanti's Pop Factory in Pontypridd, where she worked as a freelance producer on the pop magazine programme Popty.

Previously, she worked as a producer with HTV and was responsible for productions such as holiday series Pacio, youth programme W-Y Misus, and teen music programme Cic.

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NICE NICHE: Siwan Jobbins is building on S4C's strengths
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 24, 2002
Words:599
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