Preschool Network to Enroll Next Fall

Comcast Corp., HIT Entertainment plc, PBS and Sesame Workshop are going to preschool.

The four companies said Wednesday that they will launch a 24-hour digital-cable network for preschool-aged children and a companion video-on-demand service next fall.

The as-yet-unnamed channel will feature a library of more than 4,000 episodes from PBS, Sesame Workshop and HIT, including shows such as Bob the Builder, Barney, Thomas & Friends, Angelina Ballerina and other PBS Kids titles.

The companion VOD package will be available to MSOs in early 2005, and it will include more than 50 hours of programming for preschoolers and their families.

"We're thrilled to announce this partnership with the leading providers of family-friendly, educational children's programming," Comcast chairman and CEO Brian L. Roberts said in a prepared statement.

"This channel will be a resource for parents and caregivers, who will be able to depend on it to always offer age-appropriate viewing options that present positive, enriching messages,” he added. “We're committed to launching this new channel in a significant number of our markets, and we will work with other cable and satellite companies to reach as many customers as possible."

HIT chairman Peter Orton added, “This is a transforming deal for HIT as we make our first move into broadcasting. And we are delighted to be in partnership with Comcast, PBS and Sesame Workshop, each of which brings their own tremendous and unique strengths to this groundbreaking venture.”