|Launched||September 1, 1988|
|Picture format||1080i HDTV|
(downscaled to letterboxed 480i for the SDTV feed)
(also available in Jamaica and The Bahamas)
|Sister channel(s)||Family Jr.|
|Timeshift service||Family Channel East|
Family Channel West
|Bell TV||Channel 556 (east; SD)|
Channel 557 (west; SD)
Channel 1642 (east; HD)
|Shaw Direct||Classic lineup:|
Channel 540 (east; SD)
Channel 541 (west; SD)
Channel 69 (east; HD)
Channel 170 (east; SD)
Channel 171 (west; SD)
Channel 569 (east; HD)
|Available on most cable systems||Channel slots vary in each provider|
|Bell Aliant Fibe TV||Channel 258 (east; SD)|
Channel 503 (east; HD)
|Bell Fibe TV||Channel 556 (east; SD)|
Channel 557 (west; SD)
Channel 1556 (east; HD)
|Bell MTS||Channel 153 (east; SD)|
Channel 154 (west; SD)
Channel 1153 (east; HD)
|Optik TV||Channel 605 (east; SD)|
Channel 9604 (west; SD)
Channel 604 (east; HD)
|SaskTel||Channel 130 (east; SD)|
Channel 430 (east; HD)
|VMedia||Channel 57 (east; HD)|
Family Channel (or Family) is a Canadian English language specialty channel owned by WildBrain. Family's programming is aimed towards both preteen and teenage 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.
When Family Channel was launched in 1988, much of its programming was heavily sourced from the American cable channel 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; it also has the highest total viewership among Canada's children's television channels. 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 removed from the CRTC's policies, allowing Family to transition to an ad-supported format similar to conventional specialty channels.
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.
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. ET.
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 premium format, it later changed its programming strategies to closer-resemble those of mainstream specialty channels, albeit remaining commercial-free because it was still legally considered a premium service.
Rebranding and change in focus
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. 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 TV, and Teletoon), Corus sold its stake in Family Channel to Astral Media for $126.9 million.
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.
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 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. Bell filed a new application for the proposed takeover with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission on March 6, 2013; the CRTC approved the merger on June 27, 2013, 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.
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.
The acquisition of Family Channel and its sister networks by DHX was approved by the CRTC on July 24, 2014. 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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
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. 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.
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. 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."
Family's programming encompasses both domestic and imported 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 audience. The channel 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, based on its original 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 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. 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.
Historically, Family had been the main Canadian outlet for the programming of the U.S. cable network Disney Channel, including its original series and made-for-TV films. 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 sibling Canadian version of Disney XD in 2012. Family has also acquired programming from other sources, including Nickelodeon.
Family began to phase out Disney programming in late 2015, after Corus Entertainment acquired exclusive rights to Disney Channel's programming and associated brands in Canada. Since then, Family has acquired the bulk of its programming from AwesomenessTV and DreamWorks Animation.. Family has also co-commissioned programming with the U.S. network Universal Kids. The latter had previously acquired the rights to 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.
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- 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.
- 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", 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. As of July 2013[update], programs seen in this block included: Franny's Feet, Handy Manny, Henry's World, Imagination Movers, Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Jungle Junction, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, The Secret World of Benjamin Bear, and Strawberry Shortcake's Berry Bitty Adventures.
- Disney XD on Family – "Disney XD on Family" was Family Channel's hour-long block that replaced "Jetix", airing on evenings from 9:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m. on Fridays, and from 10:00 p.m.–11:00 p.m. on Saturdays, showcasing episodes of American-produced original series from Disney XD that are carried by its Canadian sister channel of the same name (such as Gravity Falls, Kickin' It, Kirby Buckets, Lab Rats, Mighty Med, Phineas and Ferb, Star Wars Rebels, The 7D, and Wander Over Yonder).
- Jetix – Family launched its version of Jetix (a programming block originated in the United States by ABC Family and Toon Disney) on September 10, 2006, replacing "Power Box". The original Canadian Jetix block included Get Ed, Ōban Star-Racers, Power Rangers Jungle Fury, Power Rangers Mystic Force, Power Rangers Operation Overdrive, Pucca, and Yin Yang Yo!). Jetix aired on weekend mornings from 6:00 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. EST; the Jetix block ended on August 1, 2009 without a direct replacement, but Family Channel's action-oriented sister channel was launched in 2011 in the name of Jetix's successor brand worldwide, Disney XD, and then a branded block, titled Disney XD on Family, was launched on the main channel.
- Power Box – Until 2006, Family carried an early morning program block of action shows sourced from Jetix, including Ōban Star-Racers, Power Rangers Dino Thunder, Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!, and W.I.T.C.H., that started at 6:00 a.m. EST. "Power Box" was discontinued in 2006, and was replaced with Jetix.
- Mad Dash – "Mad Dash" was a block that mainly featured Disney-produced live action and animated series; it aired weekday afternoons from 11:50 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST. Various TV shows aired within the block, such as Cory in the House, Fish Hooks, Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, Phineas and Ferb, Pucca, Recess, The Replacements, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, The Weekenders, and Wizards of Waverly Place. "Mad Dash" was discontinued in March 2010.
- Non Stop – "Non Stop" was a weekday evening and weekend block that primarily featured live action sitcoms. Notable shows that aired as part of this block included Aaron Stone, Hannah Montana, Jonas, Overruled!, Sonny with a Chance, The Suite Life on Deck, Wizards of Waverly Place, and Zeke and Luther. "Non Stop" ended on January 11, 2011. An offshoot of this block called Non Stop Weekends ran on Saturday and Sunday evenings until 9:00 p.m. EST; it was discontinued on January 9, 2011.
- Family Nights – Airing every Monday through Thursday from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. EST. the block featured Hannah Montana, The Suite Life on Deck, among other series. "Family Nights" was discontinued on June 25, 2010.
- Nightly Pix – This late night block aired movies every night. The block was discontinued in January 2011, when Family modified its look. This was also to make room for an extension of the "Popcorn Pix" block.
- Surprise Stack Attack! – From October 13, 2011 to May 31, 2012, Family aired "stacks' of random original and acquired programs on Thursdays from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EST; as part of a block called "Surprise Stack Attack!" The block was referenced in program listings under the placeholder title "To Be Announced", as Family Channel did not release episode information for the block's schedules in advance.
- Project Pet – Airing February 2014, this block includes interstitials featuring viewer-submitted videos of pets doing clever or funny things. The block also features the short series The Adventures of Super Pup and His Sidekick.
- Mega March – Airing March 2015, the block also included a TV awards show and premiered the third season of The Next Step.
- Radio Disney – In October 2011, Family Channel began offering a live audio stream of U.S. children's music network Radio Disney through Family.ca. However, in May, 2015 due to Family losing Disney rights, Radio Disney was shut down.
- The 630 – Airing April–June 2015, the block included new episodes of various Disney programs.
- Family's Cool Cool Summer – The block aired marathons and new episodes of hit Disney shows. It also showed the premieres of Teen Beach 2 and Descendants. It aired during the summer of 2015.
- Family Jr. on Family – Prior to the introduction of the Family Jr. channel on September 18, 2015, Family Jr. was a block on Family Channel aimed at preschoolers that ran from February 2009 to December 3, 2010. When Family Jr. replaced the original Canadian Disney Junior network in 2015, the Disney Junior block on Family Channel was rebranded as Family Jr. The block was discontinued on November 1, 2016.
- 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. This teen block aired every night starting at 9:00 p.m. EST. It was discontinued in September 2017.
- Popcorn Pix – This block aired movies every Friday night; it also aired movies on Saturdays and Sundays.
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. It was rebranded as Disney Junior on May 6, 2011, following the launch of the brand in the United States earlier that year. 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.
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.
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.
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- 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. Most of the channel's original programs are produced and broadcast in HD, along with feature films.
- Family OnDemand – Video 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.
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