Family Channel

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For other uses, see The Family Channel.
Family Channel
Family Channel 2011.png
Blue version of the Family logo
Launched September 1, 1988
Owned by Pierre Boivin blind trust
(sale pending to DHX Media)
Picture format 1080i (HDTV)
480i (SDTV)
Country Canada
Language English
Broadcast area Nationwide
(also available in Jamaica and The Bahamas)
Headquarters Toronto, Ontario
Sister channel(s) Disney Junior (English)
Disney Junior (French)
Disney XD
Timeshift service Family Channel East
Family Channel West
Bell TV 556 Family (east; SD)
557 Family (west; SD)
1642 Family (east; HD)
Shaw Direct Classic lineup:
540 Family (east; SD)
541 Family (west; SD)
69 Family (east; HD)
Advanced lineup:
170 Family (east; SD)
171 Family (west; SD)
569 Family (HD; east)
Available on most Canadian cable systems Consult your local cable provider for channel availability
FibreOP 258 Family (east; SD)
503 Family (east; HD)
Bell Fibe TV 556 Family (east; SD)
557 Family (west; SD)
1556 Family (east; HD)
MTS 153 Family (east; SD)
154 Family (west; SD)
Optik TV 605 Family (west; SD)
9604 Family (east; SD)
604 Family (east; HD)
SaskTel 130 Family (east; SD)

Family Channel (branded on-air as simply Family) is a Canadian English language Category A premium television channel that is owned as part of a blind trust held by Pierre Boivin. Mainly marketed to children and teenagers between 8 and 14 years of age[1] (although programming from Disney Junior is targeted at younger children ages 3-9), its programming consists of Canadian-produced original first-run television series; current and archived original programming imported mainly from Disney Channel in the United States; and theatrically-released feature films.

The channel – which although licensed as a premium service, is carried on the basic tiers of most providers – originally marketed its programs towards families; although by the late 1990s, it became targeted more toward children and young adolescents. Family Channel is headquartered in the Brookfield Place office complex, near the Financial District of Downtown Toronto. The channel operates two timeshifted feeds: East (Eastern Time) and West (Pacific Time). It is the most popular children's channel in Canada in terms of overall viewership.[2] The channel is also available on Flow Cable in Jamaica[3] and on Cable Bahamas in The Bahamas.[4]


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 (later acquired by Western International Communications) and First Choice Canadian Communications Corporation (by then a division of Astral Communications), with both companies owning a 50% stake in the service.[5]

The network launched on September 1, 1988 at 6 a.m. Eastern Time. During its first decade, Family Channel's programming 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 (mostly concerts, documentaries and animated specials). Family Channel's programming format during this time mirrored that of fellow premium service The Disney Channel in the United States, which has served as the primary source of Family's imported American programming since its launch. At the time of its launch, Family Channel had broadcast for 16½ hours each day, from 6 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Eastern 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 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 now operates as a de facto specialty channel, much like similarly themed channels such as YTV. However, in line with CRTC regulations for premium channels, the channel does not broadcast traditional advertising, aside from running promotions for other Family Channel programs and sponsored contests between shows (the latter being the only form of commercial advertising the network airs).

Rebranding and change in focus[edit]

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

On October 1, 1999, Family Channel underwent a significant rebranding, shortening its on-air brand to just "Family" – although "Family Channel" remains the channel's official legal name – and introducing a new logo (a circle with a lower-case "f" within a white circle outline) with the debut of a new on-air graphics package. In 2000, Corus Entertainment acquired Western International Communications' stake in the service and subsequently sold it to Astral in 2001. 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 the only-family oriented programming featured on the channel by the mid-2000s becoming feature films.

On September 10, 2006, Family replaced its Power Box block with Jetix block.[6]

In February 2007, Family began airing short programs from Disney Channel (such as Disney's Really Short Report, Meet the Family and the Movie Surfers behind-the-scenes segments for Disney-produced films), alongside the channel's own interstitials such as music videos ("FamJam"), contest promotions, and movie interviews produced by now-former corporate sister The Movie Network. 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 debuted an updated logo and on-air identity to coincide with the launch of its new high-definition feed.[7]

The Family Channel, Inc. decided to launch a sister channel called "Family Extreme" receiving a license for the channel in 2009, instead decided use the broadcast license for a licensed Disney XD. On June 1, 2011, Disney XD Canada was launched.[8]

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 sell Family and five other channels (Disney Junior English and French, Disney XD, MusiMax and MusiquePlus), in an attempt to relieve concerns surrounding Bell's total market share in English-language television following the merger (Bell's original proposal, which would have included the networks, was rejected in 2012 as it would have given Bell a 42% share of the market).[9] Bell filed a new application for the proposed takeover with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission on March 6, 2013;[10] the CRTC approved the merger on June 27, 2013,[11] with Family Channel and the Astral channels 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.[12]

On November 28, 2013, DHX Media announced that it would acquire Family, Disney Junior and Disney XD 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 Group, which gave it ownership of the program libraries of Cinar and DIC Entertainment), the purchase will mark 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.[2][13][14][15][16]


Family produces its own original programming, in addition to airing many series and original movies from the U.S. cable network Disney Channel, and some third-party programming (such as reruns of the now-defunct Australian series from Network Ten, The Elephant Princess). Though the majority of Family's international programming comes from Disney Channel, some live-action series from the U.S. channel Nickelodeon have aired on Family Channel in the past (for example, Family held the Canadian rights to now-defunct Nickelodeon series Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide and Zoey 101, initially airing in the form of first-run episodes and continuing to air on the channel in reruns until early 2012), this occurred even as YTV strengthened its programming ties with Nickelodeon during the 2000s; Nickelodeon's programming has now largely migrated to YTV (and its sister channel Nickelodeon Canada). The channel had also previously broadcast some original programming from Disney Channel's U.S. sister network Disney XD; in April 2012, Pair of Kings became the last Disney XD series to move exclusively to Family's Canadian sister channel of the same name.

Family broadcasts episodes of its original and acquired programs in order of the program's production code number, instead of by their original broadcast order on American and other foreign channels, which may cause story inconsistencies differing from their originating market's run, as many shows film episodes out of order. The network also utilizes an "off-the-clock" schedule for programs airing between 1:00 and 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time, with series airing during that period running in timeslots of 23–27 minutes, usually concurrent with the program's original runtime without commercials or promos included, as such promo breaks on Family between programs are generally of limited length during the overnight and morning hours. Family also offers promotions of video games and movies released theatrically and on DVD via interstitial segments under the name Blast.[17] The only program on the channel to have ever incorporated traditional commercial breaks (though without outside advertising) during a program was Dance Fever from the American ABC Family in 2003, which had traditional advertising in its originating market and was created before multinational reality programming was finessed to allow differences in ad break formats.

Original programming[edit]

In addition to carrying original series and movies sourced from Disney Channel, Family also commissions its own original programming. Past and present original programs include:


The channel also airs films, which are run without interruption and typically air on weekends (with two films each on Friday and Sunday evenings, three films on Saturday evenings, and an additional movie during the early afternoon hours each Saturday and Sunday). Films aired in these timeslots consist of either made-for-TV films produced by Disney Channel or older theatrically released feature films (from studios such as Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group and Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group). As it is licensed as a premium service, all films aired on Family are given parental advisories by either the Canadian motion picture rating system or the Canadian TV Classification System (ratings from the latter system are also applied to series that air on the channel) that appear prior to the start of the feature. Films aired on Family consist of G, PG and some 14A-rated movies, no films with rated 14+ and above for non-theatrically released films or 18A and above for theatrically released films are broadcast on the channel.

While it broadcasts original movies produced by Disney Channel, up until 2010, Family Channel had not produced or distributed its own original made-for-television films. Family commissioned its first original movie Vacation with Derek, a movie based on the popular 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. "Special edition" airings of some of the network's movies (mainly higher-profile original movies from Disney Channel) are also sometimes aired, including sing-along versions of music-based films (featuring on-screen lyrics for viewers to sing along with the film's songs) and "What's What" editions (styled similarly to Pop-Up Video, featuring behind-the-scenes trivia that is overlaid onto the film being broadcast, such as Vacation with Derek).[19]

Programming blocks[edit]



  • Christmas - Family Channel's December schedule usually focuses on Christmas programming, with the title of the branding changing every year. Since 2011, Family has branded its holiday season programming lineup as "Twistmas". The block features various Christmas-themed films (including Disney Channel Original Movies such as The Ultimate Christmas Present, 'Twas the Night, and Good Luck Charlie, It's Christmas!), along with Christmas episodes of the network's original and imported series.
  • Halloween – In October, Family Channel airs Halloween-themed programming in an annual event, titled "Monstober", a brand used each year since 2011 (and is named after the October block seen on Disney Channel in the U.S.). Halloween-themed films and episodes of the network's original and imported series air within this block. During the month, interstitials featuring tips on Halloween costumes and Halloween makeovers are also broadcast.
  • 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 and Disney 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. At the end of the summer, there is a big concert named the Big Ticket Summer Concert.
  • Project Pet - This block airs every February with viewer videos of their pets doing clever or funny things. It also airs The Adventures Of Super Pup and His Sidekick.


Related services[edit]

Disney Junior[edit]

The Canadian version of Disney Junior launched as a multiplex channel of Family, originally known as Playhouse Disney Channel, on November 30, 2007. It operates as a 24-hour commercial-free channel carrying programs aimed at preschool-aged children.[20] The channel was relaunched under the new Disney Junior brand on May 6, 2011.[21] Unlike Family, Disney Junior only operates a Eastern Time Zone feed, which is broadcast nationally.

Because Family is licensed as a premium service which allows for the addition of multiplex channels that are consistent with the network's licence, no additional licence was required to launch the service. Existing subscribers of Family are automatically eligible to receive Disney Junior free of charge, subject to carriage by their television service provider; however, it is not available on a standalone basis. The use of Family's existing licence also allows the service to compete with the preschooler-aimed specialty channel, Treehouse TV, despite the format protection guidelines for specialty channels. This is so, because Family's nature of service is to broadcast programming targeted toward "youth to age 17", in which case, a preschool audience would qualify.[22] A French-language version of Disney Junior (then known as Playhouse Disney Télé) launched on July 5, 2010. It was rebranded as Disney Junior on May 6, 2011 to coincide with the rebranding of the English channel. However, unlike the English version of Disney Junior, the French version is a category 2 service operating on a separate licence from Family Channel.

Family HD[edit]

On January 11, 2011, Family Channel launched a high definition feed called Family HD that simulcasts the East Coast standard definition feed.[7] The channel broadcasts in the 1080i picture format. Most of the channel's original programming as well as Disney Channel-produced programs produced from 2009 onward is produced and broadcast in HD, along with feature films, Disney Channel original movies made after 2005 and select episodes, films and series produced before 2009.

Family On Demand[edit]

Family OnDemand is the channel's video on demand service that is available to subscribers of the channel; it features select episodes of original series produced by Family Channel, as well as original programming supplied by Disney Channel, which provides the vast majority of the American program content on the linear Family channel. A Disney Junior version launched on May 6, 2011.[23]

Radio Disney[edit]

In October 2011, Family Channel began offering a live audio stream of U.S. children's music network Radio Disney through[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About Us". Retrieved 2013-12-02. 
  2. ^ a b "DHX Media to buy Family, other children’s channels". Toronto Star. November 28, 2013. Retrieved 29 November 2013. 
  3. ^ "Flow Cable channel lineup". Retrieved 2013-12-02. 
  4. ^ Cable Bahamas channel lineup[dead link]
  5. ^ "Decision CRTC 87-905". CRTC. 
  6. ^ "Disney". Channels in portofolio. Inner Consulting Group. Retrieved April 25, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "Family Channel turns on new look". 2011-01-11. 
  8. ^ Wedge, Pip. "Disney XD". programming. Canadian Communications Foundation. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  9. ^ BCE takeover of Astral OK’d by Competition Bureau, The Montreal Gazette (via The Canadian Press), March 4, 2013.
  10. ^ Astral and Bell Comment on New Acquisition Application to CRTC, Broadcaster Magazine, March 6, 2013.
  11. ^ CRTC approves Bell-Astral merger, CBC News, June 27, 2013. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
  12. ^ Canadian Kids Comedy Hits iTunes Before TV, But Not in Canada - UPDATED, MediaCaster Magazine, July 10, 2013.
  13. ^ "DHX to acquire Family Channel, three others from Bell Media". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). November 28, 2013. Retrieved 29 November 2013. 
  14. ^ Vlessing, Etan (August 20, 2012). "DHX Media expands by buying Cookie Jar Entertainment". KidScreen. Retrieved December 26, 2012. 
  15. ^ Clarke, Steve (August 20, 2012). "DHX grabs Cookie Jar: Canuck kids' entertainment companies combine". Chicago Tribune (Variety). Retrieved December 26, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Astral Kids Media Sales Site: Family Channel - Client Solutions - Entertainment Interstitials - Blast". Retrieved 2011-08-17. 
  17. ^ Bertrand, Ginger (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. 
  18. ^ "Ashley Legatt's blog - 6 Aug 2010". Retrieved 2011-07-02. "'Vacation With Derek' will be ... in a pop-up version, that means you will get to see all of the behind the scenes facts and trivia from filming." 
  19. ^ Playhouse Disney splashes out for Canuck launch, KidScreen, 2007-11-01
  20. ^ Disney Junior launches May 6 with new programs and a nod to Classic Disney Characters and Magic, CNW, 2011-03-03
  21. ^ Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2002-386, CRTC, 2002-11-28
  22. ^ "Disney Junior On Demand". 2011-08-18. Retrieved 2013-12-02. 
  23. ^ "Radio Disney brings more music to". Retrieved 2013-12-02. 

External links[edit]