Family Channel (Canadian TV network)

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Family Channel
Family Channel 2011.png
LaunchedSeptember 1, 1988; 31 years ago (1988-09-01)
Owned byWildBrain
Picture format1080i HDTV
(downscaled to letterboxed 480i for the SDTV feed)
CountryCanada
LanguageEnglish
Broadcast areaNationwide
(also available in Jamaica and The Bahamas)
HeadquartersToronto, Ontario
Sister channel(s)Family Jr.
Télémagino
Family Chrgd
Timeshift serviceFamily Channel East
Family Channel West
WebsiteFamily
Availability
Satellite
Bell TVChannel 556 (east; SD)
Channel 557 (west; SD)
Channel 1642 (east; HD)
Shaw DirectClassic lineup:
Channel 540 (east; SD)
Channel 541 (west; SD)
Channel 69 (east; HD)
Advanced lineup:
Channel 170 (east; SD)
Channel 171 (west; SD)
Channel 569 (east; HD)
Cable
Available on most cable systemsChannel slots vary in each provider
IPTV
Bell Aliant Fibe TVChannel 258 (east; SD)
Channel 503 (east; HD)
Bell Fibe TVChannel 556 (east; SD)
Channel 557 (west; SD)
Channel 1556 (east; HD)
Bell MTSChannel 153 (east; SD)
Channel 154 (west; SD)
Channel 1153 (east; HD)
Optik TVChannel 605 (east; SD)
Channel 9604 (west; SD)
Channel 604 (east; HD)
SaskTelChannel 130 (east; SD)
Channel 430 (east; HD)
VMediaChannel 57 (east; HD)

Family Channel (or Family) is a Canadian English language specialty channel owned by WildBrain. Family's programming is aimed towards both tween and teenage demographics, broadcasting domestic and imported children's television series, teen dramas, off-network sitcoms, and both theatrically released and made-for-television movies targeted towards the demographics. Family 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]

When Family was launched in 1988, much of its programming was heavily sourced from the American cable network Disney Channel. In 2015, these rights lapsed and were later acquired by Corus Entertainment, who launched its own Canadian version of Disney Channel. Since 2016, Family has relied on its original programming, library programs from DHX, and acquisitions from other sources.

As of March 2013, Family Channel is available to approximately six million pay television households in Canada;[2] it also has the highest total viewership among Canada's children's television channels,[3] it broadcasts Eastern Time Zone feeds in both standard definition and high definition, and a Pacific Time Zone feed solely in standard definition. While it previously operated with a commercial-free format due to its status as a premium channel, the formal categorization has since been deprecated by the CRTC, allowing Family to transition to an ad-supported format similar to conventional specialty channels.

History[edit]

Early history[edit]

Family Channel's original logo, used from 1988 to 1999. The "Channel" font was slightly different from 1997 to 1999.

Family Channel was licensed as a pay 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, with both companies owning a 50% stake in the service.[4]

The network officially launched on September 1, 1988; during its first decade, Family Channel's programming format mirrored that of then fellow U.S. premium service The Disney Channel. Family's programming lineup consisted mainly of domestic and foreign-imported live-action and animated series (with many of the imported series produced by The Walt Disney Company's television production units – Walt Disney Television, and eventually Touchstone Television, now ABC Studios), feature films from the Walt Disney Pictures library, classic films from other American and Canadian film studios, and specials. At the time of its launch, Family Channel broadcast for 16½ hours each day, from 6:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time and Pacific Time.

Family was originally offered by cable companies as a standalone channel that required an additional monthly subscription fee. In October 1997, most domestic cable and satellite providers started offering the channel as part of a package with that year's wave of new specialty channels. While Family initially continued its "pay" format, including broadcasts of older Disney movies which would be repeated several times a month, it soon changed its programming practices to the point that it operated as a de facto specialty channel. However, in line with CRTC regulations for premium channels at the time, Family did not broadcast commercials.

Rebranding and change in focus[edit]

Original version of 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.[5] In March 2001, in response to complaints by the CRTC over its near-monopoly on ownership of children's specialty channels in Canada (citing YTV, Treehouse, and Teletoon), Corus sold its stake in Family Channel to Astral Media for $126.9 million.[6]

By this point, Family – whose programming had been targeting a broader family audience throughout its schedule, save for some programs targeted mainly at children interspersed within its daytime lineup – began to target a dual audience: kids and teenagers during the daytime, and families at night. Gradually, though, the channel's programming shifted more towards children with feature films being the only family-oriented programming featured on the channel by the mid-2000s.

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 simulcast. Alongside the transition, the channel also introduced an updated logo and on-air imaging.[7]

Sale to DHX Media[edit]

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 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.[8] Bell filed a new application for the proposed takeover with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission on March 6, 2013;[9] the CRTC approved the merger on June 27, 2013,[10] 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.[11]

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.[3][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[edit]

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. Corus subsequently launched new Disney Junior and Disney XD channels as well in December 2015. DHX's programming agreement with Disney ended 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. 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][21][22][23][24][25]

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, whom DHX had acquired in 2014.[26][27] 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.[28][29]

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; as a result, channels that were legally considered premium services, such as Family Channel, may now optionally broadcast advertising.[30][31] 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."[32]

Programming[edit]

Family's daytime lineup primarily consists of original and imported series aimed at preteens and young teenagers, as well as a primetime block featuring reruns of sitcoms and other programs aimed at an older teenage audience.[28]

Historically, Family had been the main Canadian outlet for the programming of the U.S. cable network Disney Channel, including its live action and animated programs, as well as its made-for-TV films. Family began to phase out Disney programming in late 2015 following Corus Entertainment's acquisition of exclusive Canadian rights to Disney Channel's programming and associated brands. For a period, the network also aired programming from Disney Channel's spin-off network Disney XD; these programs were phased out following the launch of a local Disney XD channel run by Family in 2012. Family has also acquired and aired programming from other sources, including previous live action Nickelodeon series, and the Australian series The Elephant Princess. Since the loss of Disney programming, the majority of Family's acquired programming have come from AwesomenessTV and DreamWorks Animation, as part of output deals with DHX Media.[28]

Since its launch, Family and DHX have co-commissioned programming with the U.S. network Universal Kids. Universal Kids had also acquired the U.S. rights to another Family series—The Next Step—and provided additional funding for its sixth season due to reduced financial commitments by DHX. Family and CBBC also co-commissioned the children's horror anthology Creeped Out.[33][34][35]

Family airs films on Friday and Saturday evenings and on weekend afternoons; they consist of either theatrical releases, or, previously, Disney Channel made-for-TV films. Family commissioned its first original movie, Vacation with Derek, a movie based on the TV series Life with Derek, which premiered on the channel in June 2010. In addition, Family Channel has also been involved in one other made-for-TV film co-production, the 2010 film 16 Wishes, which was co-produced in association with Disney Channel and MarVista Entertainment.

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 underwritten contests, along with interstitial segments such as Fam Jam (which aired teen pop music videos), and features on upcoming family films produced by former sister The Movie Network. 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.[30]

Original programming[edit]

Past and present original programs produced for Family include:

Programming blocks[edit]

Current[edit]

Seasonal[edit]

  • Big Ticket Summer – The network runs summer programming blocks every year with differing themes. Since 2011, Family Channel has branded its summer programming lineup as "Big Ticket Summer"; this block airs during the months of July and August to take advantage of the largest possible children's audience, and features new episodes of Family Channel series that premiere on Friday evenings. The channel also runs "stacks" or mini-marathons of a certain show throughout the day that leads into a new episode of that program. Interstitial segments aired between shows include the "Big Ticket Summer Playlist," featuring music video playlists of popular songs from major artists. At the end of each summer, Family holds the "Big Ticket Summer Concert," a tour featuring popular artists and music groups from the United States and Canada.
  • Halloween 13 – This block airs Halloween specials every October.
  • Happy Holiyays – Formerly "Twistmas", this block airs holiday specials every December all month long.

Former[edit]

Related services[edit]

Family Jr. and Télémagino[edit]

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,[43] it was rebranded as Disney Junior on May 6, 2011, following the launch of the brand in the United States earlier that year.[44] 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.[45][46]

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.[47]

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

Family Chrgd[edit]

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.[48][49]

Other services[edit]

  • Family HD – On January 11, 2011, Family Channel launched Family HD, a 1080i high definition simulcast of Family Channel's east-coast feed. The network does not operate a separate HD feed for the west coast.[7] Most of the channel's original programs are produced and broadcast in HD, along with feature films.
  • Family OnDemandVideo on demand services are offered for Family and Family Jr., which feature episodes of series that are broadcast on the two networks.
  • Family Go is a TV Everywhere service which offers video on demand content from Family and its sister networks to authenticated subscribers of the networks on participating television providers.

References[edit]

  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". Newswire.ca. March 1, 2013. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
  3. ^ a b "DHX Media to buy Family, other children's channels". Toronto Star. November 28, 2013. Retrieved November 29, 2013.
  4. ^ "Decision CRTC 87-905". Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.
  5. ^ "Canuck players plan splitting up of WIC". Variety. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
  6. ^ "Corus sells Family, buys femme web". Variety. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
  7. ^ a b "Family Channel turns on new look". Playbackonline.ca. January 11, 2011.
  8. ^ "BCE takeover of Astral OK'd by Competition Bureau". The Montreal Gazette (via The Canadian Press). March 4, 2013. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |work= (help)[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "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. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  10. ^ "CRTC approves Bell-Astral merger". CBC News. June 27, 2013. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
  11. ^ "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.
  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. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |work= (help)
  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. Retrieved July 27, 2014.
  18. ^ "DHX Media closes Family Channel acquisition and announces management changes". Canada Newswire. July 31, 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 to Bring AwesomenessTV Shows to Canadian Television". Variety. Retrieved August 29, 2015.
  21. ^ "DreamWorks Animation Inks Strategic Content Pact With DHX Media". Deadline.com. Retrieved December 19, 2015.
  22. ^ "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.
  23. ^ "DHX-Disney Divorce Almost Done". Cartt.ca. Retrieved April 16, 2015.
  24. ^ "Corus gains Canadian rights to Disney Channel content". The Globe and Mail. Canadian Press. Retrieved April 16, 2015.
  25. ^ "DHX Media buys Degrassi TV studio". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
  26. ^ "Degrassi: Next Class to debut on Family Channel, Netflix". CBC News. June 9, 2015. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
  27. ^ a b c d Vlessing, Etan. "Why Family is going to be just fine without Disney". Cartt.ca. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
  28. ^ a b "'Degrassi: Next Class' Creator Talks Switch to Netflix: "That's Where the Kids Are"". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
  29. ^ a b "Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2016-436". Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.
  30. ^ Maloney, Val. "CRTC to allow ads on pay-TV channels". Kidscreen. Brunico Communications. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  31. ^ "Ads coming to Family Channel". Cartt. Retrieved December 15, 2016.
  32. ^ "Why Canada's reputation as a kids' TV production powerhouse is under threat". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  33. ^ Evans, Greg (April 10, 2018). "Universal Kids Sets First Original Comedy 'Greenfields' For Fall". Deadline. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  34. ^ "Universal Kids, DHX co-commission comedy series". Kidscreen. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  35. ^ "Family Channel heads Backstage". Kidscreen. Retrieved July 7, 2015.
  36. ^ "IT'S NOT OVER! DEGRASSI: NEXT CLASS DEBUTS ON FAMILY CHANNEL IN JANUARY 2016". DHX Media. Archived from the original on June 17, 2015. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  37. ^ Ginger Bertrand (July 12, 2012). "Principal photography starts on THE NEXT STEP a new tween drama from Temple Street Productions for Family Channel". Astral. Retrieved January 6, 2013.
  38. ^ "DHX's Family greenlights The Wonderful Wayneys". Kidscreen. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  39. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 9, 2001. Retrieved July 28, 2019.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  40. ^ "Disney". Channels in portofolio. Inner Consulting Group. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
  41. ^ "Radio Disney brings more music to Family.ca". Article.wn.com. Retrieved December 2, 2013.
  42. ^ "Playhouse Disney splashes out for Canuck launch". KidScreen. November 1, 2007.
  43. ^ "Disney Junior launches May 6 with new programs and a nod to Classic Disney Characters and Magic". Canada Newswire. March 3, 2011.
  44. ^ "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.
  45. ^ Dickson, Jeremy (August 21, 2015). "DHX TV reveals fall skeds for rebranded channels". Kid Screen. Retrieved August 21, 2015.
  46. ^ "Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2002-386". Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission. Retrieved November 28, 2002.
  47. ^ "DHX Television's Family Chrgd to Go to Air". October 7, 2015. Archived from the original on December 8, 2015. Retrieved October 11, 2015.
  48. ^ "Astral Launches Disney XD June 1, 2011 - Kids' Specialty Channel and Multi-Platform Brand to Debut Across Canada". Canada Newswire. March 11, 2011.

External links[edit]