DirectTV Premieres BabyFirst

DirecTV today debuted BabyFirstTV, the first 24-hour channel for babies. The non ad-supported channel, $9.99 per month on DirecTV, is backed by News Corp. partner Regency Enterprises, Netherlands-and-Israel based investment group Kardan and LA-based investment fund Bellco Capital.

BabyFirstTV’s programming, aimed at babies 6 months to three years old, is designed to foster baby-parent interaction, not make babies smarter, according to the company’s executives. The channel will debut with 250 hours of content, some 80% original. Other programming will come from DVD companies, including Brainy Baby. BabyFirstTV is angling for cable carriage in the future and plans to launch in Spanish by the end of the year, its executives say.

The network has prompted negative reaction from kid-focused public interest groups, who say babies should not be watching TV. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of two should not watch TV.

The recent debut of baby-targeted DVD Sesame Beginnings, as well as DVDs from Disney-owned Baby Einstein have prompted similar criticism.

BabyFirstTV has assembled an advisory board including pediatrician Dr. Edward McCabe, chief physician at UCLA’s Mattel Children’s Hospital.