|Launched||September 1, 1988|
|Owned by||DHX Media|
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)
(also available in Jamaica and The Bahamas)
|Formerly called||Family Channel (1988–1999)
(remains in use as official name)
|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 other Canadian cable systems||Consult your local cable provider or program listings source 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 as Family since 1999, is a Canadian English-language Category A cable and satellite television channel that is owned by DHX Media. 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 mainly children's television series, as well as some theatrically-released and made-for-television movies targeted towards the demographic. The majority of Family's programming is sourced from the United States-based Disney Channel and its sister cable networks Disney Junior and Disney XD, although it also produces original, Canadian-produced programming.
Although it is licensed as a premium television service, the channel is carried on the basic tiers of most Canadian subscription television providers, and is also carried by Flow Cable in Jamaica and on Cable Bahamas in The Bahamas. Family is headquartered in the Brookfield Place office complex, near the Financial District of Downtown Toronto.
As of March 2013, Family Channel is available to approximately 6 million pay television households in Canada; it also has the highest total viewership among Canada's children's television channels. It transmits three feeds: Eastern Time Zone feeds in both standard definition and high definition, and a Pacific Time Zone feed solely in standard definition.
- 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 (which was later acquired by Western International Communications, who's properties are now owned by Shaw Media - through its take over of Canwest Global - and the rest of WIC properties owned by Corus Entertainment) and First Choice Canadian Communications Corporation (the operators of fellow premium service First Choice, now known as The Movie Network, and by then a division of Astral Communications and now apart of Bell Media), with both companies owning a 50% stake in the service.
The network officially launched on September 1, 1988 at 6:00 a.m. Eastern (in Eastern Canada) and Mountain Time (in Western Canada). During its first decade, Family Channel's programming format during this time mirrored that of then 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. 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 (mostly concerts, documentaries and animated specials). At the time of its launch, Family Channel had broadcast for 16½ hours each day, from 6:00 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 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 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 that 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 the "paint and sun" design used since the channel's launch. 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 feature films being the only family-oriented programming featured on the channel by the mid-2000s.
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.
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 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, 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 licensing conditions which require that less than 40% of the Canadian programming produced for the channel 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
On April 16, 2015, it was announced that Corus Entertainment had acquired Canadian rights to Disney Channel's programming library, with its programming to be transitioned to a new Canadian version of Disney Channel set to launch in September 2015. Corus stated that following the introduction of Disney Channel, it planned to re-launch Disney's other children's television brands in Canada under its own properties; DHX's current programming agreement with Disney will end in January 2016. As a result of these changes, Disney programming will be phased out of Family Channel's lineup, and DHX concurrently announced that its Disney XD and Junior networks would be re-branded under the Family brand as Family XTRM and Family Junior respectively. To make up for the loss of Disney programming, DHX announced that it would place a larger emphasis on new and returning original productions for Family Channel, and that it was finalizing an output deal with Mattel for programming based off its properties across the Family networks.
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 also broadcasts some original programming from Disney Channel's U.S. sister network Disney XD; the network previously aired programs from the network on its regular schedule until April 2012, when Pair of Kings became the last Disney XD series to move exclusively to Family's Canadian sister channel of the same name; Family later launched a block featuring various Disney XD series in 2014. The network also airs music videos under the banner "FamJams," an interstitial segment that airs during extended breaks between programs, featuring videos from American and Canadian artists popular with Family Channel's target demographic. Videos themed to a particular holiday are featured within the segment during the "Monstober", "Twistmas" and "Big Ticket Summer" seasonal blocks.
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 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 air without commercial or promotional interruption, typically 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 are shown 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 Junior on Family – "Disney Junior on Family" is a programming block featuring shows targeted at children aged 3–9, that airs Monday through Fridays from 4:30 to 7:00 a.m. and 8:45 to 11:00 a.m., and weekend mornings from 4:30 to 8:00 a.m. Eastern and Pacific Time. 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 to 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.
- Disney XD on Family – "Disney XD on Family" is an hour-long block, airing on evenings from 9:00–10:00 p.m. on Fridays, and from 10:00–11:00 p.m. on Saturdays, showcasing episodes of American-produced original series from Disney XD that are carried by its Canadian sister network of the same name (such as Lab Rats, Phineas and Ferb, Mighty Med, Kickin' It, Gravity Falls, Wander Over Yonder, Kirby Buckets, 7D and Star Wars Rebels).
- Christmas – Family Channel's December schedule usually focuses on Christmas-themed 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. 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 (in 2014, the concerts were held in Toronto, Halifax and Edmonton).
- 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 6:00 a.m. Eastern and Pacific Time. "Power Box" was discontinued in 2006, and was replaced with Jetix.
- 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, 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 (one of the few non-Disney series featured in the block), Phineas and Ferb, Recess and The Replacements. "Mad Dash" was discontinued in early 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 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, the block featured The Suite Life on Deck, Hannah Montana and other series. "Family Nights" was discontinued on June 25, 2010.
- 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 to 7:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific Time, 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 an on TV award show and premiered the third season of Family's dance series The Next Step.
The Canadian version of Disney Junior originally launched on November 30, 2007 as Playhouse Disney Channel, operating as a multiplex channel of Family. It operates as a 24-hour commercial-free channel focusing on programs aimed at preschool-aged children. The channel was relaunched under the new Disney Junior brand (which was originally launched in the United States that February for the preschool block on Disney Channel) 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 programming requirements designated by 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-targeted specialty channel, Treehouse TV, despite the format protection guidelines for specialty channels enforced by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission. 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 the channel was launched on July 5, 2010 as Playhouse Disney Télé; it also changed its name to 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 operates as a Category B service (originally a Category 2 service before the CRTC redesignated specialty channel classes in 2011) and was launched by Family's then-owner Astral Media using a separate licence from Family Channel.
Disney XD is a Category 2 digital cable and satellite television channel that was launched on June 1, 2011 as a spin-off of Family Channel. Astral Media received approval from the CRTC for the license, which it tentatively named "Family Extreme," before entering into a brand licensing agreement with The Walt Disney Company to use the Disney XD name originated on the digital cable and satellite channel in the United States. The network is aimed at young males aged 7–14, and features original programming from the U.S.-based Disney XD channel, select action and comedy programs from Disney Channel, and select domestically produced programs from Family Channel. Unlike Family Channel and the English and French Disney Junior channels, but like its American counterpart, Disney XD operates as an advertiser-supported service.
|Family HD||On January 11, 2011, Family Channel launched Family HD, a 1080i high definition simulcast of the East Coast standard definition feed. Most of the channel's original programs as well as Disney Channel-produced programs produced from 2009 onward are 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 OnDemand||Family OnDemand is the channel's video on demand service that is available to subscribers of the channel at no extra cost; 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. Disney Junior On Demand, a VOD service for multiplex channel Disney Junior, launched on May 6, 2011.|
|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.|
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