Remember how you could come home from school every day and get your daily dose of cartoons every day?
What ever happened to after school programming for kids?. Well apparently, starting from December 05 public television stations, save PBS, have been void of any form of entertainment for children. Beginning in September 2002 the Fox Corporation decided to drop its after school line up of shows. The official reason being that it simply did not get the ratings it hoped for. It cost the Fox Corporation more money to produce this programming than ever before. Combined with the fact that kids were no longer tuning in only quickened the decline of after school toons.
The truth is that Disney being the evil fortune 500 company that it is took all our precious childhood cartoons away. Now over 16 years ago Disney ran a similar lineup of cartoons on its own. Initially it was on UPN and later moved to KCAL. Featuring the Disney oriented cartoons, (Ducktales, The Mighty Ducks, Darkwings, Goof Trip, and Chip ‘n Dale Rescues) it was a seemly innocent ploy to get children’s attention.
After acquiring KCAL , Disney wanted to pull cartoon content that was currently on Fox (this was before Foxkids and KidsWB) to show on KCAL. This in turn was a violation of the contracts held between the Fox and Disney. Ignoring the contracts, Disney CEO Michael Eisner forcefully pulled all Disney produced content on Fox. Barry Diller, president of the Fox Corporation in response decided to sever all ties with Disney, creating his own afternoon block of children’s entertainment.
By 1990 the entity known as FoxKids was born. Although initially airing cartoons for only 30 minutes a day, FoxKids expanded to a full 3.5 hours of content a day in 1992. Following Fox’s example the WB launched its own afternoon hour block in 1995. Feeling threatened, the Disney Corporation decided to let the viewers decide. Every television station at this point timed their entertainment at approximately the same time, forcing kids to choose between their beloved cartoons. While children were basking in a mixed variety of comedy and action packed entertainment, the corporate juggernauts were fighting for control.
Much to the distaste of the Disney Corporation, its poorly animated and scripted cartoons were no match for the likes of Animaniacs (KidsWB) and the Mighty Morphing Power Rangers (Foxkids)
Rather than accepting defeat, Disney decided that if it could not have public television it would have to take to cable tv. Disney decided to back up stations like Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network with overwhelming amounts of shows. With the rise of premium television (cable and direct tv) in the late 90s Foxkids and KidsWB fought desperately to maintain the attention of younger viewers. Fox at this point, failed to maintain educational content whereas KidsWB had.(This still puzzles me.)
In 1999, the Fox corporation adopted its The Magic School Bus to comply with the educational mandate. Further tumbling down a downward slope, Fox moved much of its content to cable television as well. The ratings were increasingly low due to the KidsWB adaptation of Pokemon and eventually Yu-Gi-Oh.
In early 2000, Fox was hassled by “The Big Three” (CBS, NBC, ABC) and much of its children entertainment content was retracted. The after-school cartoon craze had died. Similarly, in 2002 KidsWB felt the threat of cable television an opted for a Saturday cartoon block.
Ultimately, the blame is to be put on the Disney Corporation. If they never violated their contracts perhaps the fate of afternoon cartoons would not have been so abruptly curtailed. However, we should all realize that even in the very beginning it was not just about bringing joy to the children, but also a constant war for control. The idea of children’s enjoyment shall forever be tainted by the corruptions of greedy men in the entertainment industry.