ITV's new children's digital TV channel, CiTV, due to be launched March 11, will be the "most-watched" of all British channels within eighteen months.

So promises Steven Andrew, the broadcaster's recently appointed director for digital channels. Putting a £35 million ($60.9m; €51.38m) annual programming budget [and, likely, his job] on the line, Andrew boldly predicts that CiTV will outperform the market within one an a half years from launch.

Sizeable though the CiTV budget may be, it pales into insignificance alsongside the £98m lavished by the BBC on its CBeebies and CBBC children's channels. Not only is Andrews challenging the publicly-owned broadcaster's bigger budgets, he is also targeting commercial rivals Nickelodeon, Jetix and Discovery Kids.

Comments ITV director of programmes, Simon Shaps: "There have never been more children's channels around. We think the way forward is to put significant investment into fewer shows and by doing a few brands better."

There will be two programming slots, one aimed at the 2-5 age group, the other targeting 4-9 year-olds. The schedules will vary at weekends and during school holidays.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff