BBC Canada
Broadcast areaCanada
HeadquartersToronto, Ontario
Picture format1080i HDTV
(downscaled to letterboxed 480i for the SDTV feed)
OwnerCorus Entertainment (80%, managing partner)
BBC Studios (20%)
(Jasper Broadcasting Inc.)
Launched7 September 2001 (2001-09-07)
Closed31 December 2020 (2020-12-31)
Replaced byBBC First (Canadian TV channel)

BBC Canada was a Canadian English language specialty channel that mostly broadcast television series originally produced by the BBC, the public-service broadcaster of the United Kingdom. The channel was owned by Corus Entertainment (80% & managing partner) and BBC Studios (20%).


Alliance Atlantis (AAC) was granted a broadcast licence for a Category 2 speciality service covering "entertainment, drama and documentary programming". BBC Canada, by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in November 2000.[1] Alliance also received licenses for channels including National Geographic, IFC, and The Health Network, launched as Discovery Health.[2] The channel was launched on 7 September 2001 as a joint venture between AAC and BBC Worldwide.

To promote the launch of BBC Canada's 2007 fall season, a 16-page British-style tabloid insert called the BBC Telly was published in the Toronto Star. Toronto-based Pilot PMR created the campaign.[3]

On 28 January 2008, a joint venture between Canwest and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners known as CW Media bought Alliance Atlantis and gained AAC's interest in BBC Canada. On 27 October 2010, the channel's ownership changed once again as Shaw Communications gained control of BBC Canada as a result of its acquisition of Canwest and Goldman Sachs' interest in CW Media.[4][5]

On 13 May 2011, BBC Canada was separated from the now-defunct children's channel BBC Kids due to its ownership changing hands to Knowledge Network.

On 1 April 2016, Shaw Media was sold to Corus Entertainment. BBC Canada also earned several sister networks to go with the existing ones.

In a notice to subscribers posted in early November 2020, Corus sister company Shaw Direct indicated that the channel would be shutting down on 31 December 2020.[6]

In March 2021, Blue Ant Media, a company owned by former Alliance Atlantis executive Michael MacMillan which already owns the Canadian version of BBC Earth, announced that its HIFI channel would be rebranded as a Canadian version of the BBC's international entertainment channel brand BBC First on March 16. Several programs that had been carried by BBC Canada prior to its closure, including Top Gear and Antiques Roadshow, were picked up by BBC First.[7]


Main article: List of programs broadcast by BBC Canada

While BBC Canada was part-owned by the BBC, not all of the BBC's programmes aired on BBC Canada. In general, while BBC Worldwide and its affiliated operations have a "first look" at the corporation's output, this right only applies so long as BBC Worldwide pays no less than what the BBC Commercial Agency, which is at arm's length, judges to be a particular property's value.[8] Furthermore, while BBC Canada served a similar purpose to the BBC America channel available in the United States, there are also significant differences between the programming rights owned by the two channels.

This meant that much of the BBC's output (and, for that matter, BBC America's original programming) aired on other Canadian channels which have either co-produced the programmes or simply bid more for the Canadian broadcast rights. Conversely, many of the British series that did air on the channel are not sourced from the BBC, with some having originally been produced by or aired on other British channels, such as the privately owned ITV or the independent public-service broadcaster Channel 4.

Despite its British focus, BBC Canada was licensed as a Canadian channel and was not exempt from the CRTC's broadcasting regulations that required it to carry a quota of Canadian content. This meant that in addition to British programmes, it also broadcast a number of Canadian series, which according to the channel's licence were required to "explore or [be] informed by Canada's relationship to the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth".[1] Canadian programmes that aired on the channel included repeats of Disaster DIY and Holmes Inspection. In the early 2010s, the channel began airing American series featuring British personalities, such as the American version of the Gordon Ramsay programme Kitchen Nightmares (it has also in the past carried the British parent series Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares), and repeat airings of the American dramas House and Elementary (each of which has a British actor in the lead role).

Many of the channel's programmes, whether British, American or Canadian, were shared with other Corus Entertainment channels such as the Global Television Network, Showcase, HGTV Canada and Food Network Canada.

BBC Canada did not ordinarily carry BBC News programming, as the BBC World News channel is also widely available in Canada, and BBC News also has a long-standing content-sharing agreement with the CBC. On the rare occasions that BBC Canada did carry news coverage, coverage may have been produced by Corus-owned Global News instead of the BBC, such as with the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.[9]

BBC Canada HD

In October 2016, Corus Entertainment launched BBC Canada HD, a 1080i high definition simulcast of the standard definition feed. The HD feed was only available on Telus Optik TV and Shaw Direct. The HD simulcast was shut down on 31 December 2020.

Related properties

Apart from the television channel, BBC Worldwide directly operates a BBC Canada Shop website which sells merchandise related to British television series such as Top Gear, Little Britain and Doctor Who.

See also


  1. ^ a b Decision CRTC 2000-484, CRTC, 24 November 2000
  2. ^ Dixon, Guy (13 February 2001). "Alliance Atlantis reels in Salter Street Films: Deal for Halifax production firm expands stable of specialty channels and programs". The Globe and Mail. Toronto ON. p. B1.
  3. ^ "BBC Telly hits Toronto streets with tabloid-style promo » Media in Canada". Retrieved 10 May 2015.
  4. ^ Shaw Communications closes purchase of Canwest TV assets, rebrands as Shaw Media[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ CRTC approves Shaw’s purchase of the Canwest Global television properties Archived 20 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "December 31 | BBC Canada cease broadcasting". Shaw Direct. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  7. ^ Ramachandran, Naman (3 March 2021). "BBC Studios, Blue Ant Media Team to Launch BBC First Channel in Canada (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 3 March 2021.
  8. ^ Culture, Media and Sport Committee (25 March 2009). "Report on BBC Commercial Operations". Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  9. ^ Shaw Media (29 March 2011). "SHAW MEDIA CELEBRATES THE YEAR'S MOST TALKED-ABOUT WEDDING WITH LIVE, ON-THE-GROUND REPORTING AND HOTLY ANTICIPATED PREMIERES". Archived from the original on 19 September 2019. Retrieved 14 January 2012.