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)
(also available in Jamaica and the Bahamas)
|Headquarters||Toronto, Ontario, Canada|
|Sister channel(s)||Disney Junior (English)
Disney Junior (French)
|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||Check local listings, channels may vary|
|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 (also referred to as simply Family) is a Canadian English language Category A premium television channel that is mainly marketed to children and teenagers between 8 and 14 years of age. It is headquartered in the Brookfield Place office complex, near the Financial District of Downtown Toronto.
Programming featured on the channel consists primarily of Canadian-produced original series, current and archived original programming imported mainly from Disney Channel in the United States and some theatrically released feature films. The channel operates two timeshifted feeds: East (Eastern Time) and West (Pacific Time). It is the most popular children's channel in Canada.
Following the acquisition of Family's previous parent company, Astral Media, by Bell Media, Family and its sister networks were placed into a blind trust pending their sale to a third-party. Bell had agreed to sell the networks as a condition of its purchase of Astral. On November 28, 2013, DHX Media announced it would acquire Family, as well as sister channels Disney Junior and Disney XD, pending CRTC approval.
- 1 History
- 2 Programming
- 3 Related services
- 4 International distribution
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 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.
The network launched as Family Channel on September 1, 1988. 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), 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).
Rebranding and change in focus
On October 1, 1999, the channel was rebranded as simply "Family", although "Family Channel" remains the channel's official legal name. 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.
Family was originally offered by cable companies as a standalone channel; however, beginning 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, no commercials are shown, aside from promotions for other Family programs and Family-sponsored contests aired between shows. Some advertisers work around this rule by co-sponsoring contests which are then promoted on the channel.
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 from 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.
Sale to DHX Media
On March 4, 2013, following the Competition Bureau's approval of Bell Media's takeover of Astral, 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 CRTC 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.
On November 28, 2013, DHX Media announced that it had reached a deal to acquire Family and its sister networks for $170 million. While the Halifax-based company produces and distributes a large library of children's television series, these will be the first television services that DHX has ever owned.
Relationship with the Family Channel (U.S.)/ABC Family
The existence of ABC Family, a United States cable channel that itself was long known as The Family Channel, has occasionally led to the presumption that the two channels are affiliated. Both channels have co-commissioned some programming in the past and both currently have a significant connection to The Walt Disney Company (Family Channel primarily acquires its foreign programming from ABC Family's sister networks Disney Channel and Disney XD, while Disney has owned ABC Family since it acquired the channel – then named Fox Family Channel at the time of the purchase – from News Corporation in 2000). However, the two channels developed separately in their respective countries, and as such, neither channel can be considered an international version of the other. Allarcom and First Choice had first proposed using the "Family Channel" name in 1987. The American channel which was initially controlled by televangelist Pat Robertson, originally launched in 1977 as the CBN Satellite Service and was later renamed CBN Cable Network in 1981, before adopting "The CBN Family Channel" as its name in August 1988 (one month before Canada's Family Channel signed on), and eventually dropping the CBN reference two years later in September 1990. In addition, ABC Family is advertiser-supported, whereas Family Channel's licence requirements restrict it from airing traditional advertisements outside of program promotions.
Despite the current dual relationships with Disney, most of ABC Family's recent original programs have aired in Canada on channels other than Family (such as MuchMusic), as Family's schedule is already filled with Disney Channel programming, Canadian-produced shows and other programs focused on children and preteens. Most recently, Corus Entertainment entered into a separate partnership with Disney to launch a Canadian channel based on and featuring programming from ABC Family called ABC Spark (named as such to avoid any confusion with Family Channel), which debuted on March 23, 2012. Nevertheless, some American cable providers have used Family's former "Paint and Sun" logo to represent the U.S. channel on program guides, and occasionally the reverse has occurred with ABC Family's Robertson-era logo as The Family Channel (whose "Family" script is similar to the pre-1999 logo of the Canadian channel) appearing in some Canadian listings.
Family's development was in fact more similar to that of Disney Channel; besides common programming and past co-commissioning of original programming, both were launched as premium channels prior to pay television providers offering them as basic channels, and neither channel accepts traditional advertising (Disney Channel does not accept traditional advertising outside of PBS-style underwriter sponsorships, and breaks within programs consist largely of promotions of its own programming, and Disney Channel-produced featurettes advertising Disney films and consumer products). Due to Disney Channel's longtime programming agreement with Family, Family Channel is often thought of as a de facto Canadian version of Disney Channel.
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 ran 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 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 by the program's production code number, instead of by their original broadcast order on American and other foreign channels; many times this creates inconsistencies storyline-wise between episodes, 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. ET, 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. The only program on the channel to have ever incorporated breaks during the show was Dance Fever, which aired on Family in 2003.
In addition to carrying original series and movies sourced from Disney Channel, Family also commissions its own original programming. Some of the channel's most popular shows have included Life With Derek, The Latest Buzz, Overruled!, Wingin' It and Naturally, Sadie. Originally though, Majority Rules! aired on Teletoon. Past and present original programs include:
The channel also airs films, which are run uninterrupted 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 airing on the channel) 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 Family 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 Family Channel original series Life with Derek, which premiered on the channel in June 2010. In addition, Family 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.
Some of the network's movies also air in a Pop Up Video-style version (similar to the special versions of select original movies produced by and broadcast on Disney Channel in the United States), with behind-the-scenes trivia overlayed onto the film being broadcast, such as Vacation with Derek: What's What Edition.
- Disney Junior on Family - This block, which is specially designed for preschoolers and originated as "Playhouse Disney", was rebranded as "Disney Junior on Family" 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. The block airs each weekday morning from 4:30 to 7 a.m. and 8:45 to 11 a.m. ET, and weekend mornings from 4:30 to 8 a.m. ET. As of July 2013, shows that air on the 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, Katie and Orbie, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, The Secret World of Benjamin Bear and Strawberry Shortcake.
- Twistmas- This seasonal block is aired in December with Christmas shows and movies airing most of the time.
- Monstober- This block is aired in October with halloween themed movies and TV shows air in this block. This block also airs tips on halloween costumes and halloween makeovers.
- Big Ticket Summer- This block airs in July and August and has new episodes of the top shows air every Friday in the evening. They also have stacks or mini- marathons that air a certain show for one day and at the end of the stack there is a new episode of that show.
- Jetix - Family launched its version of the Jetix block on September 10, 2006, replacing the "Power Box" block. 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 from 6:03 to 7:45 a.m. ET on weekend mornings; Jetix ended on August 1, 2009.
- 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. ET. In 2006, the "Power Box" block was dropped and replaced with Jetix.
- Mad Dash - "Mad Dash" was a block that aired mainly Disney-produced live-action and animated series, and aired weekday afternoons from 11:49 a.m. to 5:03 p.m. ET. Notable shows that aired 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.
- Non Stop Weekends - Family ran a block of programs under the "Non Stop" brand on Saturday and Sunday evenings until 9:00 p.m. ET. The block ended on January 9, 2011.
- Family Nights - Airing every Monday through Thursday from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. ET, 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 television 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. ET/PT, ending on May 31, 2012.
Family OnDemand is a video on demand service featuring programming from Family Channel, available to subscribers of the channel. The service features original series produced by Family, as well as original programming supplied by Disney Channel, which provides the vast majority of the American program content on the linear Family channel.
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 has only one national feed, operating on an Eastern Time Zone schedule.
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.
Disney Junior On Demand
Outside of Canada, Family is seen on some cable systems in the Caribbean:
- Jamaica - distributed on Flow Cable systems.
- The Bahamas - distributed on Cable Bahamas systems.
- "About Us". Family.ca. Retrieved 2013-12-02.
- "DHX Media to buy Family, other children’s channels". Toronto Star. Retrieved 29 November 2013.
- "Decision CRTC 87-905". CRTC.
- "Astral Kids Media Sales Site: Family Channel - Client Solutions - Promotional Opportunities". Retrieved 2011-08-17.
- "Family Channel turns on new look". Playbackonline.ca. 2011-01-11.
- BCE takeover of Astral OK’d by Competition Bureau, The Montreal Gazette (via The Canadian Press), March 4, 2013.
- Astral and Bell Comment on New Acquisition Application to CRTC, Broadcaster Magazine, March 6, 2013.
- CRTC approves Bell-Astral merger, CBC News, June 27, 2013. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
- Canadian Kids Comedy Hits iTunes Before TV, But Not in Canada - UPDATED, MediaCaster Magazine, July 10, 2013.
- "DHX to acquire Family Channel, three others from Bell Media". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 29 November 2013.
- New Millennial Focused Channel, ABC Spark, to Launch in Canada, The Futon Critic. Accessed 2011-10-26.
- "Astral Kids Media Sales Site: Family Channel - Client Solutions - Entertainment Interstitials - Blast". Retrieved 2011-08-17.
- 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.
- "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."
- Playhouse Disney splashes out for Canuck launch, KidScreen, 2007-11-01
- Disney Junior launches May 6 with new programs and a nod to Classic Disney Characters and Magic, CNW, 2011-03-03
- Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2002-386, CRTC, 2002-11-28
- "Disney Junior On Demand". Disneyjunior.ca. 2011-08-18. Retrieved 2013-12-02.
- "Radio Disney brings more music to Family.ca". Article.wn.com. Retrieved 2013-12-02.
- "Flow Cable channel lineup". Flowjamaica.com. Retrieved 2013-12-02.
- Cable Bahamas channel lineup[dead link]