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DHX buys Family Channel, Disney XD for $160m

DHX Media is to buy leading Canadian children’s net Family Channel and three Disney-branded channels for C$170 million (US$160 million) from Bell Media.

Bell-operated Disney Junior and the English and French-language Disney XD pay TV networks are part of the agreement. The deal needs approval the Competition Bureau and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission and to satisfy closing conditions.

Canada-based DHX, which earlier this year acquired Ragdoll Worldwide for £17.4 million (US$28.3 million), will finance the deal through an underwritten credit facility and cash on hand.

Bell had been forced to put the channels up for sale following the closure of its takeover of Canadian cable rival Astral earlier this year. Since March, they have been held in a blind trust by French-Canadian businessman Pierre Boivin.

“Broadcasting is a natural extension for the company,” said Steven DeNure, President and COO of DHX Media. “The acquisition of Family Channel further enhances our ability to operate as a vertically integrated player in the global children’s content business.”

Family Channel is particular will be of value of DHX as the number one children’s channel in Canada. It has an approximately 5.7 million subscribers and an English language market share of 29.6% of 2-11s during the 2011/12 season according to Broadcast Bureau of Measurement.

Overall, the acquired channels netted direct earnings of around US$27 million on revenue of US$81 million for the 12 months to August 31.

DHX is best known for producing and distributing kids shows such as Inspector Gadget, Paddington Bear and Caillou and now owns the Teletubbies and In the Night Garden brands through its acquisition of the commercial arm of Anne Wood’s indie Ragdoll.