Astral Bell Media DHX Media

Family Channel

The Family Channel was first licensed by the CRTC to a partnership between WIC Premium Television Inc and First Choice (Astral) in 1987 as a pay television service “…which will provide…..programs from the Disney Channel, as well as selected Canadian programs designed for viewing by the whole family.” WIC’s half ownership was acquired by Corus in 2000, and subsequently sold to Astral who became 100% owners in 2001. The channel commissions a significant number of Canadian series and movies as part of its programming, which is aimed at a family audience.  

March 8th 2013 saw the debut on Family Channel at 7 pm of a new Canadian original series The Next Step. The serialized reality-style half-hour drama series followed an elite group of dancers striving to make it in the world of competitive dance.

The Next Step starred Alexandra Beaton as Emily; Victoria Baldesarra as Michelle; Trevor Tordjman as James; Brittany Raymond as Riley; and Isaac Lupien as Eldon. Rounding out the troupe were Samantha Grecchi as Stephanie; Tamina Pollack-Paris as Tiffany; Jennifer Pappas as Chloe; Brennan Clost as Daniel; Lamar Johnson as West; Bree Wasylenko as Kate; Shamier Anderson as Chris and Jordan Clark as Giselle.

The Next Step was produced by Temple Street Productions and executive produced by Frank van Keeken, Ivan Schneeberg and David Fortier. BBC Worldwide acquired international distribution rights. The Next Step was also produced with financial assistance from The Shaw Rocket Fund.

On June 27, 2013, after a previous such application had been denied in 2012, the CRTC approved an application by Astral Media Inc. to sell its pay and specialty television channels, conventional television stations and radio stations to BCE Inc., including The Family Channel. 

It was a condition  of the approval that BCE must divest itself of ownership of several television and radio programming undertakings, including The Family Channel.  Pending eventual sale, the Commission directed BCE Inc. to transfer the interim management and control  of The Family Channel to a trustee pursuant to the terms of the voting trust agreement addressed in a letter of approval issued 27 June 2013, by no later than 29 July 2013.

On November 28, the divestitures demanded by the CRTC moved forward with the announcement by DHX Media that it would acquire the Family Channel, along with Disney Junior, Disney Junior (French), and Disney XD, subject to CRTC approval. This acquisition would signal DHX’s first move into television broadcasting.In 2015, Corus Entertainment acquired the Canadian rights to all of Disney Channel’s programming and as a result DHX had to end its agreement with Disney in January of 2016. To replace the Disney programming, DHX made deals with other services (AwesomenessTV, DreamWorks Animation and Mattel).

Ownership: Astral, Bell Media, and DHX Media

Start Year: 1987