Discovery Health comes to Canada

After kissing Fox/WebMD goodbye, Alliance Atlantis discovers a new partner.
July 19, 2001

Since dissolving its original partnership with Fox/WebMD (after WebMD withdrew its 50% stake in Fox’s Health Network in early January), Toronto-based Alliance Atlantis has found a different U.S. partner for its new digital health channel. Set to launch in September, the Discovery Health Channel (previously Health Network Canada), grew from a partnership between Alliance Atlantis and Bethesda-based Discovery Networks International that sees DNI assuming 35% ownership of the new channel. Alliance Atlantis maintains the remaining 65%. Phyllis Yaffe, CEO of Alliance Atlantis’ Broadcast Group explains, ‘We have made an agreement with Discovery Health in the U.S. for both a supply agreement and the use of the brand and trademark.’

Although Discovery will be supplying the new channel with some programming, over half of the channel’s content will derive from Canadian producers. Says Yaffe, ‘Sixty percent of the channel’s programming is Canadian, and it will go up to 70% after a period of time. So, it is a predominantly Canadian channel and hence, most [programming] will come from independent producers who are making health-related programming in Canada. The balance will come from our relationship with the Discovery Health Channel in the U.S., and other sources around the world.’

The Discovery Health Channel is Category one, meaning it was awarded a license out of a competitive process. Explains Yaffe, ‘The two advantages of being Category one is that all the distributors must carry the channel, and the second is that if its in a particular genre, as they all are, no one else can have that genre. So, ours is health and that means that we are the only digital health service allowed in Canada.’ The new channel will give Canadian digital subscribers the inside track on health, medicine and wellness through medical breakthroughs and inspiring real life stories.

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