by pat howard

CABLE | The N grows up and moves out

In Cable, Degrassi, Degrassi: The Next Generation, DirecTV, Internet, News, PBS, Programming, Scheduling, Syndication on August 13, 2007 at 4:44 pm

Big changes announced today at Noggin/The N. At the end of the year, the two will split into separate channels, each with its own 24-hour lineup. To accommodate the shift, Nickelodeon GAS will become broadband-only and The N will take its digital-tier slot. (Too early to tell how this will affect DirecTV subscribers, as the sat provider doesn’t carry the low-rated, rerun-filled Nick GAS.)

Big programming surprises are buried in the New York Times story on the split. The most noteworthy is that The N’s marquee show, Degrassi: The Next Generation, will see its first two-hour movie (though definitely not the first in the franchise) next spring.

More changes are on the way, too. This summer, The N has continued its habit of picking up its corporate cousins’ castoffs (Summerland, Laguna Beach and The Hills have edged out aging franchises like Dawson’s Creek, Moesha and Clueless in the summer rotation).

Apparently, that trend will continue well into next year when digital cable’s destination for angsty 16-year-old girls has twice as many program hours to fill (not to mention that Degrassi is set to kick off in daily U.S. syndication next month).

Among the watered-down tween fare to be sloughed off during the daytime “school hours” are Drake and Josh and The Amanda Show.

The most curious program pickup, I’d say, is That ’70s Show, which will begin airing on The N next year at about the same time it shows up on the revitalized ABC Family (whose watchability is inversely proportionate to the wholesomeness of its program lineup). No word yet on whether The N will have a heavy hand in the editing room as it has in the past with Degrassi, a Canadian import that became The N’s signature after it exhausted its archive of PBS Ghostwriter episodes from the early ’90s.

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN | Check out these classic Ghostwriter clips on YouTube before that pesky forthcoming fingerprinting technology kicks in this fall

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