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Family Channel (Canadian TV channel)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Family Channel Inc.
Family Channel 2017.png
Broadcast areaNationwide
(also available in Jamaica) (previously available in the Bahamas until September 2020)
HeadquartersToronto, Ontario, Canada
Picture format1080i HDTV
(downscaled to letterboxed 480i for the SDTV feed)
Timeshift serviceFamily Channel East
Family Channel West
Sister channelsFamily Jr.
LaunchedSeptember 1, 1988; 34 years ago (1988-09-01)

Family Channel (commonly known as Family) is a Canadian English-language discretionary specialty channel owned by WildBrain. The network primarily airs children's television series, teen dramas, as well as other programming targeting a family audience. Family Channel is headquartered in the Brookfield Place office complex, near the Financial District of Downtown Toronto. It has transmitted from Corus Quay since at least 2014.[1]

Launched on September 1, 1988, it was originally a joint venture between the owners of the premium television services First Choice and Superchannel; due to the breakup of Western International Communications, the network became a joint venture between Astral Media and Corus Entertainment. Astral later acquired full ownership of the network; after the 2013 acquisition of Astral by Bell Media, the network and its sister channels were divested to DHX Media (now WildBrain) in 2014.

Family was originally licensed as a premium specialty service, which necessitated that it operate under a commercial-free format, but allowed it to operate multiplex feeds. Nevertheless, television providers typically distributed Family as a conventional specialty channel. In 2016, Family was relieved of this mandate after the CRTC transitioned premium specialty services to the standardized discretionary service license.

From its launch in 1988 until 2015, many of Family Channel's programming format mirrored that of the American premium service Disney Channel. Family Channel's programming lineup consisted mainly of domestic and foreign-imported live-action and animated series from Disney Channel, feature films from the Disney film library, classic films from other Canadian and American film studios, and specials, while also using this partnership to launch Canadian versions of Disney Junior and Disney XD. This partnership ended in 2015, when Disney entered into a new licensing agreement with Corus and launched a Canadian version of Disney Channel and, later, Disney XD and Disney Junior. Since then, Family Channel has acquired programming from other sources.

As of March 2013, Family Channel is available to approximately six million pay television households in Canada.[2] It broadcasts Eastern Time Zone feeds in both standard definition and high definition, and a Pacific Time Zone feed solely in standard definition.

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Early history

Family Channel was licensed as a premium television service by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) on December 1, 1987; it was originally operated as a joint venture between Allarcom Pay Television Limited and First Choice Canadian Communications Corporation (owners of both Superchannel and First Choice), with both companies owning a 50% stake in the service.[3]

Original version of the current logo, used from October 1, 1999 to January 11, 2011.

In October 1999, as part of the break-up of Western International Communications (which had bought Allarcom), its stake in Family Channel was sold to Corus Entertainment.[4] In March 2001, in response to concerns from the CRTC over its near-monopoly on the ownership of children's specialty channels in Canada (citing YTV, Treehouse, and Teletoon), Corus sold its stake in Family Channel to Astral Media in return for Astral's Stake in The Comedy Network for $126.9 million, giving them full ownership and making it a sister channel to The Movie Network, which is now called Crave.[5]

On July 1, 2007, Family became the last English language children's network in Canada to switch to a 24-hour broadcast schedule. On January 11, 2011, Family launched a high-definition feed, and concurrently introduced an updated logo and on-air presentation.[6]

Sale to DHX Media

On March 4, 2013, following the Competition Bureau's approval of Bell Media's acquisition of Astral Media, Bell announced that it would divest Family and its sister networks, as well as Astral's seven radio stations and French language music channels MusiquePlus and MusiMax, in an attempt to relieve concerns surrounding Bell's total market share in English language television following the merger. Bell's original proposal, under which it would have maintained ownership of the channels, was rejected by the Bureau in 2012 as it would have given Bell a 42% share of the English television market.[7] Bell filed a new application for the proposed takeover with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission on March 6, 2013;[8] the CRTC approved the merger on June 27, 2013,[9] with Family Channel and the other Astral channels that were put up for sale concurrently being placed in a blind trust held by businessman and former Montreal Canadiens president Pierre Boivin, pending their sale to a third-party.[10]

On November 28, 2013, DHX Media announced that it would acquire Family and its sister networks for $170 million. While the Halifax-based company already distributes and produces a large library of children's television series (particularly through its 2012 purchase of the Cookie Jar Entertainment, which gave it ownership of the program libraries of Cinar and DIC Entertainment), the purchase marks DHX's first foray into broadcasting. DHX has indicated that it would leverage its resources and library to add more original, Canadian-produced programming to Family under its ownership.[11][12][13][14][15]

The acquisition of Family Channel and its sister networks by DHX was approved by the CRTC on July 24, 2014.[16][17] Under DHX ownership, the network is subject to new licensing conditions which require that at least 60% of the Canadian programming broadcast by the network on an annual basis be produced by companies other than DHX.[18] The acquisition was finalized on July 31, 2014, with Family and its sister networks becoming part of a newly formed division of the company known as DHX Television.[19]

Loss of Disney Channel programming rights and other changes

On April 16, 2015, it was announced that Corus Entertainment had acquired Canadian rights to Disney Channel's programming library, and that it would launch a Canadian version of Disney Channel in September 2015. DHX's programming agreement with Disney would end in January 2016.[20] As a result of these changes, Disney programming was phased out of Family Channel's lineup throughout the remainder of 2015, and its sister Disney Junior and Disney XD-branded networks were rebranded as Family Jr., Télémagino, and Family Chrgd.[21][22] Corus would also launch new Disney Junior and Disney XD channels on December 1, 2015.[23]

Alongside new and original productions, DHX reached new output deals with AwesomenessTV, DreamWorks Animation, and Mattel in 2015 for programming based on their properties across its networks.[20][24][25][26]

On June 9, 2015, it was announced that a new incarnation of the Degrassi franchise, Degrassi: Next Class, would premiere on Family in 2016. The show is produced by Epitome Pictures, a studio DHX acquired in 2014.[27][28] Next Class premiered on January 4, 2016 as part of a new primetime block known as "F2N". The F2N block was positioned towards an older teenage audience than the "tween" audience that Family has typically targeted; DHX Television senior vice-president Joe Tedesco explained that the company had original series in development for Family in case it ever did lose its output deal with Disney, and that these decisions were based on a goal to build a "strong lineup" of programs, and was not financially motivated. Tedesco went on to explain that the F2N block was meant to create a "meaningful destination" for teens and, in the case of Degrassi—a series that has historically dealt with teen issues, encourage family viewing.[29][30]

As part of the CRTC's "Let's Talk TV" initiative, DHX Media expressed concern that the elimination of genre protection for Category A specialty channels would put services licensed as premium services at an unfair disadvantage, especially due to their inability to air advertising. On November 2, 2016, the CRTC approved the implementation of new categories for licensed television services, replacing the separate specialty and pay television categories with a single Discretionary service category using standardized conditions of license, and ruled that current premium services may operate under these deregulated policies effective immediately. This decision allowed Family Channel to begin operating under an advertising-supported format.[31][32] Tedesco commended the CRTC for the decision, stating that it "represents the next logical step in the implementation of the Let's Talk TV decision, when genre protection was eliminated, and it ensures that pay and specialty channels will now be on a level field."[33]


Family's programming is aimed towards preteens to teenagers ages 8–19 and encompasses original and acquired children's television series, teen dramas, sitcoms, and both theatrically released and made-for-television movies. Its daytime lineup is aimed at preteens and young teenagers, while its primetime programs are aimed at an older teenage and family audience.[29] The channel airs films on Friday and Saturday evenings and on weekend afternoons.

As previously mandated for premium services, Family, historically, did not air traditional commercial advertising, besides promotions in between (or sometimes during) programs for its own programming and sponsored contests, along with interstitial segments such as Fam Jam (which aired teen pop music videos), and features on upcoming family-targeting films produced by former sister The Movie Network, who is now tied to the other Bell Media movie channels.[citation needed] After changes in CRTC policies and the network's licensing in November 2016, Family switched to a conventional, commercial-supported format for its non-preschool programs.[31]

Historically, Family and its spin-offs had been the main Canadian outlets for programming from the American Disney Channel and its sibling brands; Disney Junior and Disney XD. The channel also co-produced the 2010 film 16 Wishes, in association with Disney Channel and MarVista Entertainment. Family would began to phase out Disney programming in late 2015, after Corus Entertainment acquired exclusive rights to Disney Channel and its associated brands in Canada. Since then, Family acquired the bulk of its programming from AwesomenessTV and DreamWorks Animation,[29] as well as other syndicated and off-network programming targeting a family audience.

Family has also co-commissioned programming with the American network Universal Kids, owned by DreamWorks' parent company NBCUniversal, which had previously acquired the rights to the Family original series The Next Step and provided additional funding for its sixth season due to reduced financial commitments by DHX. Family also co-commissioned the children's horror anthology Creeped Out with British children's channel CBBC.[34][35][36]

Notable Programming blocks


  • Disney Junior on Family – "Disney Junior on Family" was Family Channel's version of the United States programming block and cable channel of the same name featuring shows targeted at children aged 2–7, that aired Monday through Fridays from 4:30 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., and weekend mornings from 4:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. EST. The block, which began in 2003 as "Family Playhouse Fun",[37] then in February 2009 as "Family Junior", and later "Playhouse Disney" on December 6, 2010 before being renamed "Disney Junior" on May 6, 2011 as part of a rebranding of Playhouse Disney's program blocks and standalone channels around the world to the Disney Junior brand, primarily targeted preschoolers as Family's usual target audience of older children and teenagers are in school at that time.
  • Jetix – A Canadian version of the U.S programming block seen on ABC Family and Toon Disney. Jetix launched on September 10, 2006, replacing "Power Box".[38]
  • F2N – Launched January 4, 2016, this primetime block was aimed at an older teenage audience, anchored by Degrassi: Next Class and eight series acquisitions from AwesomenessTV.[29][30] This teen block aired every night starting at 9:00 p.m. EST. It was discontinued in September 2017.

Related services

Family Jr. and Télémagino

On November 30, 2007, Family launched Playhouse Disney Channel, a separate channel featuring programming aimed at a preschool audience, based on Disney's Playhouse Disney brand. Subject to carriage, the multiplex channel was made available at no additional charge to television providers and subscribers who receive its parent network.[39] It was rebranded as Disney Junior on May 6, 2011, following the launch of the brand in the United States earlier that year.[40] On September 18, 2015, due to Corus Entertainment's acquisition of rights to Disney's children's programming and brands, the channel was re-branded as Family Jr.[41][42]

As Family was licensed as a premium service, it is allowed to operate multiplex channels that carry additional programming consistent with its licensing and nature of service.[43]

A French-language version of the channel, now known as Télémagino, was launched on July 5, 2010 as Playhouse Disney Télé. Unlike Family Jr., Télémagino operates under a separate Category B license.


On June 1, 2011, Family launched a Canadian version of Disney XD under a separate license. It re-branded as Family Chrgd on October 9, 2015.[44][45] It was renamed once more to WildBrainTV on March 1, 2022.

Other services

  • Radio Disney – In October 2011, Family Channel began offering a live audio stream of U.S. children's music network Radio Disney through[46] However, in May 2015, due to Family losing Disney rights, Radio Disney was shut down.


  1. ^ "Corus Transmits Additional Feeds from Corus Quay for Canadian Broadcasters". Corus Entertainment. November 20, 2014. Retrieved June 7, 2016.
  2. ^ "Family Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD Available on Free Preview in March". March 1, 2013. Archived from the original on March 4, 2013. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
  3. ^ "Decision CRTC 87-905". Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. December 1987.
  4. ^ "Canuck players plan splitting up of WIC". Variety. October 18, 1999. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
  5. ^ "Corus sells Family, buys femme web". Variety. March 9, 2001. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
  6. ^ "Family Channel turns on new look". January 11, 2011.
  7. ^ "BCE takeover of Astral OK'd by Competition Bureau". The Montreal Gazette (via The Canadian Press). March 4, 2013.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Astral and Bell Comment on New Acquisition Application to CRTC". Broadcaster Magazine. March 6, 2013. Archived from the original on October 2, 2015. Retrieved March 18, 2013.
  9. ^ "CRTC approves Bell-Astral merger". CBC News. June 27, 2013. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
  10. ^ "Canadian Kids Comedy Hits iTunes Before TV, But Not in Canada - UPDATED". MediaCaster Magazine. July 10, 2013. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
  11. ^ "DHX Media to buy Family, other children's channels". Toronto Star. November 28, 2013. Retrieved November 29, 2013.
  12. ^ "DHX to acquire Family Channel, three others from Bell Media". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. November 28, 2013. Retrieved November 29, 2013.
  13. ^ Etan Vlessing (August 20, 2012). "DHX Media expands by buying Cookie Jar Entertainment". KidScreen. Retrieved December 26, 2012.
  14. ^ Steve Clarke (August 20, 2012). "DHX grabs Cookie Jar: Canuck kids' entertainment companies combine". Chicago Tribune (via Variety). Retrieved December 26, 2012.
  15. ^ "DHX Media receives CRTC approval on $170M acquisition of Family Channel and three other children's channels". DHX Media. July 24, 2014. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved July 26, 2014.
  16. ^ Etan Vessing (July 24, 2014). "DHX Media approved for Family Channel takeover". Kidscreen. Brunico Communications. Retrieved July 26, 2014.
  17. ^ "Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2014-388". Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. July 24, 2014. Retrieved July 27, 2014.
  18. ^ "DHX Media closes Family Channel acquisition and announces management changes". Canada Newswire. July 31, 2014. Archived from the original on August 3, 2014. Retrieved July 31, 2014.
  19. ^ a b "Corus Entertainment snaps up Disney content from DHX Media, plans to launch Disney channel in Canada". Financial Post. Retrieved April 17, 2015.
  20. ^ "DHX MEDIA TO EXTEND FAMILY CHANNEL BRAND, FEATURE NEW AND ORIGINAL CONTENT". DHX Media. Archived from the original on April 27, 2015. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  21. ^ "DHX-Disney Divorce Almost Done". April 16, 2015. Retrieved April 16, 2015.
  22. ^ "Disney XD & Disney Junior to Roll Out in Canada Next Month". WorldScreen. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
  23. ^ "DHX to Bring AwesomenessTV Shows to Canadian Television". Variety. August 7, 2015. Retrieved August 29, 2015.
  24. ^ "DreamWorks Animation Inks Strategic Content Pact With DHX Media". December 8, 2015. Retrieved December 19, 2015.
  25. ^ "Corus gains Canadian rights to Disney Channel content". The Globe and Mail. Canadian Press. Retrieved April 16, 2015.
  26. ^ "DHX Media buys Degrassi TV studio". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
  27. ^ "Degrassi: Next Class to debut on Family Channel, Netflix". CBC News. June 9, 2015. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
  28. ^ a b c d Vlessing, Etan. "Why Family is going to be just fine without Disney". Retrieved December 1, 2015.
  29. ^ a b "'Degrassi: Next Class' Creator Talks Switch to Netflix: "That's Where the Kids Are"". The Hollywood Reporter. November 30, 2015. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
  30. ^ a b "Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2016-436". Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. November 2, 2016.
  31. ^ Maloney, Val. "CRTC to allow ads on pay-TV channels". Kidscreen. Brunico Communications. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  32. ^ "Ads coming to Family Channel". Cartt. Archived from the original on December 20, 2016. Retrieved December 15, 2016.
  33. ^ "Why Canada's reputation as a kids' TV production powerhouse is under threat". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  34. ^ Evans, Greg (April 10, 2018). "Universal Kids Sets First Original Comedy 'Greenfields' For Fall". Deadline. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  35. ^ "Universal Kids, DHX co-commission comedy series". Kidscreen. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  36. ^ "Playhouse fun - what's on -". Archived from the original on April 23, 2006. Retrieved April 23, 2006.
  37. ^ "Disney". Channels in portofolio. Inner Consulting Group. Archived from the original on May 26, 2009. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
  38. ^ "Playhouse Disney splashes out for Canuck launch". KidScreen. November 1, 2007.
  39. ^ "Disney Junior launches May 6 with new programs and a nod to Classic Disney Characters and Magic". Canada Newswire. March 3, 2011. Archived from the original on May 8, 2011.
  40. ^ "DHX Television's Rebranded Family Jr. and Télémagino Networks Revealed Today" (Press release). DHX Media. Archived from the original on September 28, 2015. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
  41. ^ Dickson, Jeremy (August 21, 2015). "DHX TV reveals fall skeds for rebranded channels". Kid Screen. Retrieved August 21, 2015.
  42. ^ "Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2002-386". Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission. Retrieved November 28, 2002.
  43. ^ "DHX Television's Family Chrgd to Go to Air". October 7, 2015. Archived from the original on December 8, 2015. Retrieved October 11, 2015.
  44. ^ "Astral Launches Disney XD June 1, 2011 - Kids' Specialty Channel and Multi-Platform Brand to Debut Across Canada". Canada Newswire. March 11, 2011. Archived from the original on July 6, 2011.
  45. ^ "Radio Disney brings more music to". Retrieved December 2, 2013.

External links

This page was last edited on 1 May 2023, at 20:56
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