|Picture format||480i (SDTV)|
|Launched||September 1, 1988|
|Closed||October 1, 2023|
|Former names||Canal Famille (1988–2001)|
Vrak (stylized as VRΔK) was a Canadian French language specialty channel owned by Bell Media. The channel primarily broadcast live-action programming aimed at 13-to-35 age group audiences. Launched in 1988 as Le Canal Famille, the channel ceased operations on October 1, 2023, due to declining viewership and it being deemed "outdated" by Bell Media.
The youth channel TVJQ ("Télévision des Jeunes du Québec") went on the air in 1982 and was distributed by a subsidiary of Vidéotron. It was originally available only in the Montreal and Quebec City areas.
In 1986, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) granted a license to Vidéotron for its TVJQ channel to be carried over by other cable companies elsewhere. This made Vidéotron the first cable company in Canadian history to simultaneously be a producer of television content. However, TVJQ was intended to be temporary until a permanent channel for children would succeed it.
Le Canal Famille
Licensed by the CRTC in 1987, Le Canal Famille was launched on September 1, 1988, as a replacement to TVJQ. Le Canal Famille was created by Premier Choix TVEC which was already partially owned by Astral Media through its subsidiary Astral Bellevue Communications.
Le Canal Famille, name translated as The Family Channel, which was the name of another Canadian youth channel that also began airing in September 1988 and itself owned at 50% by Astral Bellevue Communications.
Canal Famille was replaced by VRAK.TV on January 2, 2001, keeping the same channel frequency and still owned by Astral Media. The channel switched to an ad-supported format in 2006 to coincide with the renewal of license and launch of HD feed.
Vrak.TV was separated from its sister channels in 2013 due to the acquisition of Astral Media by Bell Media; Bell sold off Family Channel, the French version of Disney Junior, the English version of Disney Junior and Disney XD to DHX Media, and MusiMax and MusiquePlus to V Media Group.
Vrak.TV was simply renamed to just Vrak on August 25, 2014.
On September 12, 2016, Vrak changed its audience focus to the ages 13–35 group due to the success of its Vrak2 block. Some series targeting its former audience focus moved to other stations.
Removal from Videotron, closure
On August 16, 2023, Vrak and Z were removed from Vidéotron, the company that created the original channel it was based on 41 years earlier, whilst Bell removed Yoopa from all of their TV services a day later. Yoopa is now scheduled to shut down on January 11, 2024, and will be replaced with a TV broadcast version of its parent company's QUB Radio channel.
Two days later on August 18, 2023, Bell Media announced that the channel would be closing on October 1, 2023, owing to "challenges" in the broadcasting sector, lack of viewers and regulatory affairs deemed "outdated" by Bell Media. On September 25, the CRTC confirmed it had revoked Vrak's licence at the request of Bell Media. On October 1, 2023, the channel had shut down entirely with the final program being an episode of Entre deux draps (The French adaptation of Pillow Talk). There was no goodbye or farewell message, and at midnight Eastern Time, after the show was finished, the channel gave way to a sign off message for one final time for a few seconds, followed by a black screen. Color bars were shown for a few hours starting at 1 AM before cable and satellite providers were notified that the channel had ceased operations, after which the channel space folded and ceased to exist.
Since its creation, the channel had aired animated series, teen sitcoms and light-hearted dramas. Many of them are French dubs of English-language programs such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, What I Like About You, Degrassi: The Next Generation, Gilmore Girls, One Tree Hill, The O.C., Life with Derek, Smallville, SpongeBob SquarePants, That '70s Show, 90210, Gossip Girl, and many others. It also aired programs from Disney Channel; due to the launch of La Chaîne Disney by Corus Entertainment, the last remaining Disney Channel show on the channel, Good Luck Charlie (Bonne chance Charlie in French), was removed from the schedule in September 2016. The channel also featured local Quebec French language productions, such as Il était une fois dans le trouble and Une grenade avec ça?. Other series that the channel popularized were Dans une galaxie près de chez vous and Radio Enfer. As of 2010, the channel had aired films weekly.
Initially, as required by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the channel carried no commercials until 2006. However, it aired promotional messages, interstitial programs (such as help segments known as R-Force (pronounced like "Air Force")), and public service announcements instead. The channel aired commercials from 2006-2023 with the launch of its HD feed and license renewal. Its former English-language counterpart (Family Channel) continued to be commercial-free until November 2016.
Unlike the other specialty channels, Vrak was the only channel on the air daily from 6am to midnight. When the station was Le Canal Famille, the station would close down at 7pm (8pm on weekends), sharing time with the flagship Super Écran channel (then also owned by Astral and now sharing Bell Media ownership with Vrak). In 2001, when the channel was revamped as VRAK.TV, its hours were increased to 10 p.m. (Super Écran followed on most systems). Vrak's closedown time at midnight went into effect in mid-2005.
On September 12, 2016, due to the channel's changes in audience focus, its animation programming completely disappeared from the channel, eventually, they reappeared on the channel in January 2017, starting with SpongeBob SquarePants (Bob l'éponge in French).
Since May 2019, all remaining children programming on the channel has completely disappeared. From May 2022 onward, the channel would focus exclusively on dramas until its final broadcast in 2023.
On October 30, 2006, Astral Media launched an HD simulcast of Vrak.TV called Vrak.TV HD.
- YTV - an active TV channel owned by Corus Entertainment
- Family Channel - an active TV channel owned by DHX Media
- "Bell Media to shut down Vrak TV after Videotron ends its distribution | Montreal Gazette".
- "Bell Media axes VRAK, the French-language youth TV channel based in Montreal". CBC News. August 18, 2023. Retrieved August 18, 2023.
- "Une chaîne pour l 'enfance sans aucune publicité". Le Nouvelliste. Trois-Rivières. July 22, 1988. p. D11.
- "TVJQ, en attendant un "vrai" canal jeunesse". La Presse. Montreal. April 24, 1984. p. C1.
- "LE GROUPE DE RADIODIFFUSION ASTRAL INC. :: Quebec (Canada) :: OpenCorporates".
- "CRTC Notice". Montreal Gazette. Montreal. February 8, 1988. p. A5.
- Government of Canada, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) (January 24, 1984). "ARCHIVED - Acquisition of assets - First Choice Canadian Communications Corporation and Télévision de l'Est du Canada (TVEC) Inc". crtc.gc.ca.
- "Astral Bellevue Pathe Inc., a producer of feature films and videotaped programs, has raised its stake in the company that wholly owns the First Choice pay-TV service". Toronto Star. Toronto. February 2, 1989. p. C7.
- "ASTRAL BELLEVUE PATHE INC.: Astral sees steady growth as net more than doubles: [Weekly Edition]". Financial Post. Toronto. October 25, 1989. p. 25.
- "Vrak.tv remplace Canal Famille - Infopresse". Archived from the original on June 25, 2016.
- "VRAK - Details". bellmediapr.ca.
- "Changement d'orientation : la direction de VRAK explique ses choix (In French)". Huffington Post Quebec. September 10, 2016.
- Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (September 25, 2023). "Broadcasting Decision CRTC 2023-324". Retrieved September 25, 2023.
- Decision: Premier Choix: TVEC Inc. "Canal Famille" — 871204400, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, December 1, 1987