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KIDS RADIO NETWORK LASHES ABC

By Published on .

In a suit filed late last month, Children's Broadcasting Corp. charges that former partner ABC Radio Networks deliberately tried to "misappropriate CBC's unique radio programming format and force CBC out of the children's radio market."

ABC has announced plans to launch a children's radio network, with new parent Walt Disney Co., to compete with CBC. CBC targets kids ages 2 through 11 with the Radio AHHS format of music and talk shows in 32 cities.

SEEKING TO STOP ABC TEST

In its suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis (AA, Sept. 30), CBC seeks an injunction to stop ABC's plan to begin testing a children's network in major markets by the end of this year.

Disney was a founding sponsor of Radio AHHS, and CBC President Christopher Dahl said he didn't expect the suit to interfere with Disney's advertising on CBC. ABC declined comment on the suit.

In a July news release, ABC Radio President David Kantor stated: "Kids radio is something ABC Radio Networks has been pursuing for a number of years. And now that Disney and ABC are one company, it makes perfect sense for us to move ahead with our own children's network."

In April 1995, seeking to get involved with kids programming, ABC teamed up with CBC to provide assistance with national ad sales, international representation of the format and to help with creating listener research. ABC was to invest in CBC, a public company, through purchase of its stock.

CBC alleges that "without prior advice or notice," ABC entered discussions with Disney for its acquisition, and terminated the CBC stock purchase agreement.

Though CBC found a new investor, a condition was that CBC was required to maintain its relationship with ABC, which ABC ended on its own July 30. That's the day ABC announced its own plans to launch a children's network and CBC lost its investor.

In its suit, CBC claims that during the 15 months of its ABC partnership, the only new advertising ABC brought in was $23,000 from New Line Cinema, and that it failed to provide even a single lead for a potential new market.

Just before ABC officially broke off ties with CBC, the suit claims, Mr. Kantor said in a meeting with CBC that "ABC and Disney were seeking approval of several million dollars of corporate funding to begin to develop their own children's radio programming .*.*. that such funding was 90% assured .*.*. that if Disney and ABC test markets were successful, Disney would `throw Fort Knox' at developing" the network.

OTHER KID-ORIENTED EFFORTS

Efforts to target kids have grown slowly in recent years. KidStar Radio in Seattle gave way to KidStar Interactive Media, with an interactive phone system, magazine and online site.

Also, Fox Children's Network has a weekly countdown program airing on 50 stations nationwide.

Though advertisers have been slow coming due to a lack of established research-children can't participate in surveys-Radio AHHS has attracted such advertisers as General Mills, Target Stores and Southland Corp., while KidStar-with fewer than 10 markets-has Nike, Warner-Lambert Co.'s Bubblicious, Nestle USA and Nickelodeon.

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