Media: Lifeline - Children's TV

In a crowded market, ITV is about to launch a new channel for children.

1993: Viacom launches a version of its classic US children's brand Nickelodeon in the UK. As the advent of digital TV fuels channel proliferation, Nick Junior, which launches in 1999, becomes the UK's first channel to exclusively target pre-school children. Nick Replay and Nicktoons later join the Nick family.

1995: The Disney Channel had been scheduled to join the line-up of channels for the launch of Sky's first analogue satellite television service in 1989, but it pulled out after a carriage dispute. It finally joins the Sky platform six years later as a premium channel.

1996: Cartoon Network, which had shared a satellite transponder frequency with the Turner Movies channel, launches as a standalone property. In 2000, it begins spinning off brand extensions - classic cartoons are given a new home on Boomerang and a separate channel is also created for Japanese anime.

2002: The BBC causes dismay among its commercial rivals when it weighs into the market with two dedicated digital children's channels - CBBC for six- to 12-year-olds and CBeebies for the under-sixes. Lavishly funded, they rapidly become the UK's most-watched children's channels.

2006: ITV announces that it is to plough £35 million into a new children's channel, CITV. The planned launch date is 11 March on Freeview (a Sky Digital deal has not been finalised). Disney moves Disney Channel and Playhouse Disney to the basic Sky package.

Fast forward ...

2009: There are now almost 100 channels targeting children from infancy to 16, because proliferation has continued unabated. Most channels are loss-leaders funded by major media corporations in an attempt to catch viewers young - but now the market is threatened with total meltdown as the European Union moves to ban advertising to children.