DHX Media to acquire Family Channel for $170M
Nov 27, 2013
Halifax-based company hopes to add more homegrown children's programming
Source: Toronto Star
DHX Media Ltd. is poised to become Canada's newest broadcaster, acquiring Family Channel and three other children's stations from Bell Media for $170 million.
The Halifax-based company is noted for the creation, production and licensing of popular children's shows, such as Yo Gabba Gabba!, Caillou, Teletubbies and Inspector Gadget, but has never before owned a TV channel.
If the CRTC and Competition Bureau sign off, in about six months DHX will take over Family, the most-viewed children's channel in Canada with 5.7 million subscribers and a 29.6-per-cent share of the English-language market for viewers aged 2 years to 17 years, along with Disney XD and French- and English-language Disney Junior.
Bell agreed to sell the four channels as part of the approval process for its recent acquisition of Montreal's Astral Media, the original owner of the Family and Disney channels. The purchase will enhance and complement DHX's core business, said company CEO Michael Donovan.
"The lines between different forms of distribution and between creation and distribution are becoming blurred in this new digital world," he said.
DHX also has offices in Toronto, Los Angeles, Vancouver, London, Paris, Barcelona, Milan, Munich and Amsterdam, with 125 full-time employees and hundreds more on contract.
Donovan doesn't anticipate much in the way of staffing changes at Family, but consumers may eventually see shifts in content. Currently, about 20 per cent of the programming is homegrown and 60 per cent comes from U.S.-based Disney.
"The hope is that it will become a more Canadian channel, more Canadian programming, that is our general ambition," he said. "If we can increase that, I would personally feel that it's accomplished something."
That's the kind of evolution admired by Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, a watchdog group has been critical of some BellMedia programming. "This puts editorial control of those properties in the hands of people who are really quality Canadian producers of strong children's content," said Ian Morrison of the DHX deal. "They're highly regarded around the world. They could've gone to someone else who didn't have a good reputation, but I have confidence that the interest of the children viewers is well served by this."
"What I would like is for the animation industry in Canada, which truly is a world leader, to be more recognized as such; and for Canadians to realize that there is this creative industry in this area of animation," said Donovan.
With files from The Canadian Press
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