|Launched||September 1, 1988|
|Owned by||DHX Media|
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)
(also available in Jamaica and The Bahamas)
|Formerly called||The Family Channel (1988-1999)|
|Sister channel(s)||Disney Junior (English)
Disney Junior (French)
|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)
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, officially known as Family Channel and formerly known on-air as The Family Channel, is a Canadian English-language Category A television channel. Licensed as a premium television service, Family is the most popular children's channel in Canada in terms of overall viewership; it is available in approximately 6 million Canadian households as of 2013. Originally a joint venture between Allarcom Pay Television and the operators of First Choice (now The Movie Network), the network was most recently sold by Astral Media (which had been acquired by Bell Media) to children's programming distributor DHX Media.
While originally positioned as a family-oriented network, by the late 1990s, Family had shifted its focus towards a predominantly youth audience, catering towards children and teenagers between 8 and 14 years of age with television series, theatrical films, and made-for-TV movies targeted towards the demographic. The majority of Family's programming is sourced from the United States-based Disney Channel and its sister networks, alongside original, Canadian-produced programming.
Family is headquartered in the Brookfield Place office complex, near the Financial District of Downtown Toronto. It broadcasts in three feeds; east coast (Eastern Time) and west coast (Pacific Time, along with a simulcast of the east coast feed in high definition. The channel—although licensed as a premium service, is carried on the basic tiers of most television providers in Canada, and is also carried by Flow Cable in Jamaica and on Cable Bahamas in The Bahamas.
- 1 History
- 2 Programming
- 3 Programming blocks
- 4 Related services
- 5 References
- 6 External links
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.
In Montreal, 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 commercials, and does not interrupt most programs aside from running promotions for its programs and contests underwritten by a sponsor between shows (the latter being the only form of commercial advertising the network airs).
Rebranding and change in focus
On October 1, 1999, Family Channel underwent a significant rebranding, introducing a new logo—a lowercase F enclosed in a circle—to replace its long-time "paint and sun" logo. 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.
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.
In 2009, Astral received approval from the CRTC for a new spin-off network for Family, tentatively named "Family Extreme". In March 2011, Astral officially announced that it would launch a Canadian version of Disney XD on June 1, 2011.
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 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). 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 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.
On November 28, 2013, DHX Media announced that it would acquire Family, the two Disney Junior channels, 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 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 license conditions requiring that less than 40% of its yearly Canadian programming be produced by companies other than DHX. The acquisition was closed on July 31, 2014, forming a new division of the company known as DHX Television.
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 and Disney Junior, 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.
As it is a premium service, Family does not air traditional commercial advertising, nor does it air commercial breaks during programs. The network does air promotions in between programs, for its own programming and sponsored contests, along with interstitial segments such as FamJam music videos and similar segments sourced from Disney Channel. The network also utilizes an "off-the-clock" schedule for programs airing during the early morning hours, 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) with limited promotions between them.
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).
- Disney XD on Family - Shows feature programs that air on Disney XD.
- Disney Junior on Family – Family Channel currently runs a program block featuring shows targeted at children aged 3–9 on Monday through Fridays from 4:30 to 7 a.m. and 8:45 to 11 a.m., and weekend mornings from 4:30 to 8 a.m. Eastern and Pacific Time, called "Disney Junior". The block, which replaced "Playhouse Disney" on May 6, 2011 as part of a rebranding of Playhouse Disney's program blocks and standalone channels around the world into the Disney Junior brand, primarily targets preschoolers as Family's usual target audience of older children and teenagers are in school at that time. As of July 2013[update], programs currently seen in this block include Franny's Feet, Handy Manny, Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs, 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.
- FamJams - This block airs between programs and shows Music videos from famous artists. FamJams sometimes airs seasonal videos during Monstober, Twistmas or Big Ticket Summer.
- 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.
- 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 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. There are segments between shows such as Big Ticket Summer Playlist featuring superstar playlists of their favourite songs. At the end of the summer, there is a big concert named the Big Ticket Summer Concert held in changing cities. Cities hosting the 2014 Big Ticket Summer Concerts are Toronto, Halifax and Edmonton.
- 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.
- Power Box - Until 2006, Family carried an early morning program block of Japanese-themed action shows including W.I.T.C.H., Power Rangers: Dino Thunder, Oban Star Racers and Super Robot Monkey Team Hyper Force Go! that started at 6 a.m. Eastern and Pacific Time. "Power Box" was discontinued in 2006, and was replaced with Jetix.
- Jetix - Family launched its version of the Jetix block on September 10, 2006, replacing "Power Box". The original Canadian Jetix block included Get Ed, Oban Star Racers, Yin Yang Yo!, Pucca, Power Rangers: Mystic Force, Power Rangers: Jungle Fury and Power Rangers: Operation Overdrive. Jetix aired on weekend mornings from 6:03 to 7:45 a.m. Eastern and Pacific Time; Jetix ended on August 1, 2009.
- Mad Dash - "Mad Dash" was a block that mainly featured Disney-produced live-action and animated series; it aired weekday afternoons from 11:49 a.m. to 5:03 p.m. Eastern and Pacific Time. Notable shows that aired within the block included Pucca, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, Wizards of Waverly Place, Cory in the House, Fish Hooks, Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, Phineas and Ferb, Recess and The Replacements. "Mad Dash" was discontinued in early March 2010.
- Non Stop - This block aired mostly live-action sitcoms every weekday evening and throughout the weekend. Notable shows that aired on this block included The Suite Life on Deck, Hannah Montana, Sonny With a Chance, Wizards of Waverly Place, Zeke and Luther, Aaron Stone, Jonas, and Overruled!, as well as reruns of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, Cory in the House, Life with Derek, and The Latest Buzz. "Non Stop" ended on January 11, 2011. An off-shoot of this block called Non Stop Weekends ran on Saturday and Sunday evenings until 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific Time; it was discontinued on January 9, 2011, two days before the main "Non Stop" block ended.
- Family Nights - Airing every Monday through Thursday from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Eastern and Pacific Time, it featured The Suite Life on Deck, Hannah Montana and other series. "Family Nights" was discontinued on June 25, 2010.
- Surprise Stack Attack! - On October 13, 2011, Family began airing 'stacks' of surprise programming. In program listings, it was referenced as "To Be Announced" as Family Channel did not release the schedules for the block in advance. "Surprise Stack Attack!" aired on Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m. Eastern and Pacific Time, ending on May 31, 2012.
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. The channel was relaunched under the new Disney Junior brand on May 6, 2011. 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. 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.
On January 11, 2011, Family Channel launched a high definition feed called Family HD that simulcasts the East Coast standard definition feed. 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
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.
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