Cartoon Network proper will continue its decline, if not in ratings then in quality of programming. Once a powerhouse of 'creator-driven' animation, it has increasingly lost its focus and sense of direction. There is so much confusion that the network has taken to screening live-action programming in recent months. The network's vice president of development, Sam Register, recently stepped down from his post, highlighting the internal turmoil and lack of clear consistent direction for the network.
Tonight, Cartoon Network, breaking from recent trends, is going to air an animated movie. "Spirited Away" is an excellent film by Hayao Miyazaki. It's practically a showcase all that is good and artistic by animation, plus it was a commercial success here in America as it was in Japan. Now, last November they started airing live action films, which -- in case any executives at Cartoon Network are reading this page, i must remind you -- are not cartoons. On the Martin Luther King holiday, this network hit its newest low with the airing of the Nickelodeon live-action pap "Snow Day".
OK, network. You're at a crossroads. You've long squandered your credibility as the place for creator driven cartoons. (Look at your treatment of Samurai Jack, Megas XLR, Duck Dodgers and Justice League -- the last of which will return next Saturday, but unfortunately for its last parade before cancellation.) Nickelodeon, with Frederator has taken that spirit and ran with it with the Nicktoons Film Festival. In singlemindedly trying to focus on the 6-14 demographics, you alienated not only many of your older, loyal viewers, while not gaining much with the children you are pandering to. Children don't like to be condensendingly pandered to.
But you're still Cartoon Network, backed by the might of the Time Warner and available to most cable homes. You've driven down the wrong path, and wandered around aimlessly, but you managed to return to the fork in the road. The signs are marked cryptically, but you have a decision to make. One mimicks the path that has lead to ruin for pair of networks; one owned by your parent, the other owned formerly by your competition's parent. This is a path also taken by another sister station -- older, more established, more important --that is slowly leading it to ruin. The other road, well it is rockier, less paved, and well less traveled. And, well, you may not make it to its end. But travelling the road will earn you the respect of your fans. Few networks could ever hope for that.