Navigating the Canadian Digital Universe

Animal Planet
May 1, 2002

Animal Planet

Mandate/types of programming: Focus on series, and the fun and entertaining side of human/animal interaction

Ownership: Majority owners are a subsidiary of CTV, with minority holdings by a subsidiary of Discovery Communications Inc. (DCI). The BBC has a stake in the DCI subsidiary that owns the channel

On-air hours: 24-hours/day, on a six-hour wheel

Most successful programs: Amazing Animal Videos, Planet’s Funniest Animals

Origin of programming: Mainly acquired (notably from Animal Planet in the U.S., and the BBC)

Average per hour, acquisitions: CDN$1,000 to $5,000

Canadian content requirements: 15% this year, up to 25% next September and 35% in September 2003

Discovery Civilization

Mandate/types of programming: Showcases docs that investigate where the human race came from and where it’s going, from ancient tribes and cultures, to modern-day

Ownership: Majority owners are a subsidiary of CTV, with minority holdings by a subsidiary of Discovery

On-air hours: 24-hours/day, on a six-hour wheel

Most successful programs: Royal Secrets, Archaeology, Great Castles of Europe

Origin of programming: Mainly acquired. Discovery Civilization has a programming agreement with Discovery Channel in the U.S. Some programming is from the BBC

Average per hour, acquisitions: CDN$1,000 to $5,000 per hour

Canadian content requirements: 15% until September 2002, 25% next year and 35% as of September 2003

Discovery Health Channel

Mandate/types of programming: Medical science and the human body

Ownership: Alliance Atlantis Broadcasting (65%), Discovery Communications (35%)

On-air hours: 24-hours/day. The primetime schedule is divided into three hour-long, theme-based, horizontal strands that run Monday through Friday. These strands are: Condition Critical, Medical Wonders, and Being Human. This block repeats at 10 p.m. and 1 a.m., Monday through Friday

Most successful programs: The Surgeons, Health on the Line, Lifeline: Saint Vincent’s Hospital, Birth Day, Superhuman Body, 21st Century Medicine

Origin of programming: About 35% of programming is from Discovery Health Channel in the U.S. International

acquisitions represent 5% of programming and the remaining 60% is Canadian programming (acquired and original)

Commissioned hours: Approximately 135 per year

Acquired hours: About 400 per year

Coproduced hours: 65 per year

Total programming budget: Approximately CDN$5,000,000

Average per hour, commissions: $25,000 to $35,000

Average per hour, acquisitions: $2,000 to $3,500

Canadian content requirements: 60% in year one, 63% in years two to four, 65% in years five and six, and 70% in year seven (2007)

Discovery Kids

Mandate/types of programming: Reality/non-fiction for children about the natural world, science and technology

Ownership: Corus Entertainment (53.6%), Discovery Communications (46.4%)

On-air hours: 24-hours/day, on a six-hour wheel

Most successful programs: Real Kids, Real Adventures; Outward Bound; Sail Away

Origin of programming: About 90% of programming is acquired

Canadian content requirements: 15% in the first year, 25% in year two, and up to 35% in year seven

i channel

Mandate/types of programming: Media issues and public affairs. Includes documentaries, talk shows, biographies, drama and humor

Ownership: Stornoway Investors’ Group (50%) and Cogeco Radio Television (50%). Stornoway has voting control

On-air hours: 24-hours/day, seven days a week, with some hours repeated (i.e. primetime block is moved to an earlier hour and

afternoon block is shown later)

Most successful programs: i on media, Blood on the Carpet, i on a life

Origin of programming: Mainly acquired

Canadian content requirements: 55% in year one, increasing to a maximum of 65% in year seven

CTV Travel

Mandate/types of programming: Profiles all types of travel destinations and provides practical travel tips

Ownership: CTV (100%)

On-air hours: 24-hours/day, on a six-hour wheel

Most successful programs: World’s Best, The World’s Most Dangerous Places, Grand Hotels

Origin of programming: In year one, 53% is Canadian. Of that, 2/3 are original commissions or coproductions. The remaining 1/3 are acquisitions. International programming on the channel comes from a variety of countries including England, France and Australia although the majority is from the U.S.

Average per hour, acquisitions: About cdn$1,000 to $5,000, depending on license term and exclusivity

Canadian content requirements: 53% in the first year of the license term, increasing to 70% by year seven

The Independent Film Channel Canada

Mandate: Showcases independent films from Canada and around the world

Programming breaks down to: 60% feature films, 25% docs, 15% informational programming and shorts

Ownership: Alliance Atlantis Broadcasting (95%), Triptych Media (5%)

Most successful programs: Indie Nation, IFC Festivals

On-air hours: 23.5-hours/day, with some programming repeated

Origin of programming: 100 hours of original programming this year, with the rest acquired from Canadian and international independent distributors

Canadian content requirements: 40% for first six years of the license term, rising to 60% in the daytime and 50% in the evening during year seven

The Documentary Channel

Mandate/types of programming: Features Academy Award-winning documentaries and shorts and independent films.

Ownership: Corus Entertainment (53%), Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (29%), National Film Board (14%), and four independent production companies with 1% each (Barna Alper, CineNova, Galafilm, OMNI Film Productions)

On-air hours: 24-hours/day, on a seven-hour wheel

Origin of programming: As part of a deal with the CBC and the NFB, the channel gets 200 hours from the cbc a year, and 100 hours from the nfb. The channel acquires about 200 hours of documentary programming from Canadian independents, and another 200 hours from international producers. About 13 hours of documentaries are commissioned each year

Average per hour, acquisitions: CDN$3,000 for Canadian independent programming

Average per hour, commissions: $25,000 to $40,000

Canadian content requirements: Currently 66%, increasing to 75% in year seven

National Geographic Channel

Mandate/types of programming: Adventure, nature and

science programming from around the globe

Ownership: Alliance Atlantis Broadcasting (80%), National Geographic Channel Networks International (20%)

On-air hours: 23.5-hours/day, with repeated block programming

Most successful programs: National Geographic Presents, SuperCroc, Search for the Afghan Girl, Croc Chronicles

Origin of programming: 15 hours of original programming per year, with the remaining majority acquired from National Geographic Channel Networks International. Programs are from all over the world, with majority coming from the U.S. and the U.K.

Canadian content requirements: 15% in year one, 25% in year two, 35% in year three

ONE: the Body, Mind & Spirit channel

Mandate/types of programming: To help people find balance in their lives emotionally, physically and spiritually through self-help programs

Ownership: Vision Digital (41.7%), Alliance Atlantis Broadcasting (29.9%), Radio Nord (20%), and Renewal Partners (5%)

On-air hours: 24-hours/day, with no repeated block programming

Most successful programs: Meditation Moments, At Home with Herbs, U8Soul

Origin of programming: At least 90% is acquired – most is Canadian, while some is from the Netherlands, Australia, and the U.S.

Average per hour, acquisitions: CDN$800 to $2,000

Canadian Content requirements: 50% overall and 50% in primetime

The Biography Channel

Mandate/types of programming: Chronicles the real-life

stories of Canada’s leading personalities as well as intriguing people from around the world. About 80% of programming is factual/documentaries, while the rest includes feature films

Ownership: Shaw Communications (40%), Rogers Broadcasting (40%) and A&E Canada, Limited Partnership, a subsidiary of A&E Television Networks in the U.S. (20%)

On-air hours: 24-hours/day. Programming is broadcast between 6:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. (six hours) and is repeated between 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

A separate four-hour block is broadcast from 8:00 p.m. until midnight, and is repeated from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m., and again from 2:00 a.m. until 6:00 a.m. The daily programming cycle does not repeat within the week.

Most successful programs: A&E Biography, Life & Times

Origin of programming: The majority of non-Canadian programming broadcast on Biography is almost exclusively acquired from A&E in the U.S., which is owned by AETN.

Canadian content requirements: 25% overall and 25% in primetime

About The Author
Andrew Tracy joined Realscreen as associate editor in 2021, following 17 years as managing editor of the award-winning international film magazine Cinema Scope. From 2010 to 2020 he also held the position of senior editor at the Toronto International Film Festival, where he oversaw the flagship publication for the organization’s year-round Cinematheque programming and edited its first original monograph in a decade, Steve Gravestock’s A History of Icelandic Film. He was a scriptwriter and consultant on the first season of the Vice TV series The Vice Guide to Film, and his writing and reporting have been featured in such outlets as Cinema Scope, Reverse Shot, Sight & Sound, Cineaste, Film Comment, MUBI Notebook, POV, and Montage.