Sydney – The Australian Broadcasting Commission flagged plans to launch a dedicated free-to-air digital children’s channel in April 2008 after the Liberal/National Party Government pledged to provide A$82 million (US$74.9 million) in funding if it is re-elected at the Nov. 24 Federal election. The four-year funding would be split between commissioning new Australian entertainment and education programming, and buying Australian and international content. Branded ABC3, the channel would screen for 15 hours a day between 6am and 9pm seven days a week. The Labor Party, which has a healthy lead over the Government in opinion polls, is considered likely to support the new channel. “Without a dedicated free-to-air children’s channel with a high level of Australian content, Australian children will continue to drift to the commercial and overseas content provided on subscription children’s channels,” says ABC Director of Television Kim Dalton. “We believe a balance is needed, and we need to ensure that future generations of Australian children can still see and hear Australian stories, and Australian voices, on children’s television.” Dalton added, “Provided the funds are approved by government soon after the election, we will be on air by April 2008.”