'Power Rangers' Backer Saban to Reenter Kiddie TV

Saban Brands to Launch 'Vortexx' Programming Block on CW

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Wrapped in the color of a new Saturday -morning programming block known as "The Vortexx," an old hand at kiddie TV is returning to the boob tube.

Power Rangers: Samurai
Power Rangers: Samurai

Haim Saban, who helped develop the majority of the programming that filled the grid on the successful Fox Family cable-TV outlet before moving into other ventures and becoming chairman of Univsion Corp., is returning to kiddie TV. His Saban Brands has agreed to fill a five-hour Saturday -morning block on CW affiliates starting 7 a.m. on August 25, said Elie Dekel, president of Saban Brands.

"This block will be targeting kids with an action-adventure-comedy slant," said Mr. Dekel, adding that it will tend to skew toward boys. "We are going to be rebranding this block and reprogramming this block with new shows that super-serve that audience."

The selections include "Yu-Gi-Oh," which is already on the channel, along with the return of "Power Rangers," which first became popular under Saban production and during a run on Fox. Saban intends to air episodes from a past season that have not been seen in about a decade, Mr. Dekel said, though he emphasized new episodes would eventually debut.

Saban struck its agreement with CW after the previous programmer of the time slot, 4Kids Entertainment, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Saban intends to do more than just run TV shows on the CW's air. "The kids' television landscape has been going through a sort of rejiggering over the past year or so," Mr. Dekel explained. "Kids have a lot more choices, have multiple screens in which to engage and be entertained." As such, Saban intends to create digital extensions for each of the programs it brings to air.

The company's new five-hour block comes at a time when increased kids' options from national syndicators and cable outlets have dimmed the genre's appeal to broadcasters. Where the broadcast outlets once churned out everything from live-action super-hero dramas such as CBS's mid-70s series "The Shazam/Isis Hour" to more familiar cartoon fare, including the Hanna-Barbera production studio's "Laff-A-Lympics" that aired on ABC, they have largely exited the business.

Most of the broadcast outlets have now either ceded their air to outside companies or filled the time with Saturday -morning editions of news programs such as "Today."

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