Nickelodeon grows along with its young teen audience

— Nickelodeon, the cable TV network for children, is growing up a bit with its audience.

The network said Tuesday it was scheduling a special programming block on Sunday nights for young teen-agers up to age 14. Most of Nickelodeon's children's shows are now geared to youngsters up to age 11.

"This is a point in time when kids are ready to graduate from kids-dom but are not quite ready for teen-age life," said Cyma Zarghami, Nickelodeon's executive vice president and general manager. "We think we can help them through that."

Nickelodeon can also help itself to a potent demographic group with buying power that television usually doesn't cater to.

NBC gears its Saturday morning children's programming to that age group. ABC last fall cancelled its long-running "TGIF" block of Friday night shows aimed at teen-agers.

Nickelodeon's "Teenick" programming block will air from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Sundays starting March 4.

A sitcom that was on ABC's Friday schedule from 1992 to 1996, "Hangin' with Mr. Cooper," will reappear in reruns as part of the new Nick schedule. Other shows include "Caitlin's Way," about a 14-year-old foster child who moves to Montana; "Taina," about a Latina girl from Manhattan who dreams of being a star; and "As Told By Ginger," about a 12-year-old heading into junior high.

Nick will also do a weekly countdown of music videos and have occasional concert specials featuring teen-aged acts.

Even though Nickelodeon is now starting to cater to older children, it won't compete with its sister network, MTV, also owned by Viacom, Zarghami said.


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