This article evaluates the performance of public service broadcasters in the area of children’s television in Italy and Spain. It asks: how distinctive is the output of public service children’s channels? As core area of public service provision, children’s television represents an important testing ground for wider debates about the distinctiveness of public service broadcasting in a digital age. Public broadcasters in Southern Europe have historically been more vulnerable to market pressure than their counterparts in continental and Northern Europe, and this is believed to have impacted negatively on their ability to maintain a distinctive public service profile. After engaging with debates on distinctiveness in order to develop a framework for the analysis, the article presents the results of a two-week analysis of the TV schedules of the main children’s channels operating in the two countries. It finds evidence that in both countries the output of public service children’s channels is distinctive to a degree, but also that there are important gaps in public service provision as well as some significant differences between the public service children’s channels analysed.