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Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc. (formerly traded as TSX:AAC) is a Torontomarker-based media company that operated primarily as a specialty service operator in Canadamarker. Alliance Atlantis also had offices in Halifaxmarker, Los Angelesmarker, Londonmarker, Dublinmarker, Madridmarker, Barcelonamarker, Shannonmarker and Sydneymarker.

Alliance Atlantis was acquired by Canwest Global Communications and an affiliate of Goldman Sachs in 2007. The movie business now operates independently as Alliance Films, headquartered in Montrealmarker, and the international television distribution businesses is now owned by Echo Bridge Entertainment.

All of the former Alliance Atlantis specialty networks are now owned by Canwest through its CW Media division.

Formation & History

Alliance Atlantis was formed in 1998 from the merger of two former production companies, Alliance Communications and Atlantis Communications, both founded in 1985. The merger was a bit unusual in that the head of Atlantis, Michael MacMillan, became CEO of the new firm even though Atlantis was the smaller partner in the transaction ; Alliance's CEO, Robert Lantos, was specifically interested in moving back into a production role . (The merger was also parodied on Made in Canada, when that show's Pyramid Productions merged with a company called Prodigy.)

At the time of the merger, both companies had launched various Canadian specialty television services; in 1995, Alliance launched Showcase Television while Atlantis launched Life Network (which has since been renamed "Slice"); in fall 1997 the companies launched History Television and HGTV Canada respectively. Atlantis had also been a major investor in YTV in its first few years before selling out to what is now Corus Entertainment.

In 2003, the company purchased Salter Street Films, which produced a number of television shows for both the Canadian and international market. However, soon after the acquisition, Salter Street was disbanded and its active projects were transferred to Alliance Atlantis' own television production/development division.

Citing lower profits, Alliance Atlantis has all but closed its production arm, aside from the highly-profitable CSI: Crime Scene Investigation family of series, which it co-produces with CBS Television Studios. It briefly maintained Salter Street's long-running This Hour Has 22 Minutes before transferring the show to the Halifax Film Company, made up of former Salter Street employees.

Its primary business became its ownership of a number of Canadian specialty services, which, in addition to those listed above, now include Food Network, Discovery Health, BBC Canada, BBC Kids and more.

In 2007, Alliance Atlantis was named one of Canada's Top 100 Employers, as published in Maclean's magazine, the only broadcaster to be included on the list.

Sale to Canwest / Goldman Sachs

On December 20, 2006, the company announced it was "exploring strategic alternatives", effectively putting the company up for sale. Expected bidders included Canwest Global, Corus Entertainment, Astral Media, and Rogers Communications. The rights to CSI were expected to be sold separately, with CBS as the most likely bidder. A similar announcement was made previously regarding the Motion Picture Distribution unit, which is also expected to be sold separately.

On January 10, 2007, it was announced that Alliance Atlantis would be acquired by a consortium of Canwest Global and GS Capital Partners, an affiliate of Goldman Sachs. The company was broken up as follows:

  • The Entertainment and Production division, consisting mainly of AAC's 50% stake in the lucrative CSI franchise, was acquired by GS Capital Partners. CBS Paramount gained Alliance Atlantis' international distribution rights to the programs.
  • Motion Picture Distribution, including its publicly-traded income fund, was acquired by Canadian-based EdgeStone Capital Partners and GS Capital Partners. On January 15, 2008, Edgemont's 51% voting stake (and 38.5% equity stake) in the Alliance label was purchased by Société générale de financement du Québec, an investment agency of the provincial government. Since the breakup, the company's films have been distributed under the "Alliance" banner for English and "Alliance Vivafilm" for French releases.

  • The Broadcasting division was jointly acquired by Canwest and GS Capital Partners, with the former owning a majority voting interest and the latter a majority of the equity. Canwest owns 66.67% and GS owns 33.32% of CW Media, the holding company for the former AAC channels. Initially, Canwest will still manage the channels it owned before the merger separately. The Canwest and CW Media broadcasting divisions will eventually be merged, potentially also giving GS a sizable interest in Global and other Canwest channels.



Specialty Channels


NOTE: Channels marked in BOLD lettering indicates Alliance Atlantis was the managing partner.


This division of Alliance Atlantis developed and distributed various television programmes to Canadian, American and International broadcasters. The programs ranged from children's shows, series, lifestyle and documentaries. They include:

Children's Programs

Drama Programs

Comedy Programs

Other Programs

Alliance Atlantis also produced some French-language programming—both original shows and dubbed versions of its English output—under the Alliance Atlantis Vivafilm banner.


Atlantis Logo
Alliance Logo
Alliance Atlantis Alternate Logo
Alliance Atlantis Logo
Alliance Atlantis Logo (screenshot)

Alliance Films

Alliance Films is a major motion picture distribution/production company which serves Canada, the United Kingdom, and Spain. Formally known as Motion Picture Distribution LP, it was re branded and relaunched in 2007 due to the break-up of its preceding company, Alliance Atlantis, which was sold off piece by piece to Canwest Global, GS Capital Partners, along with several other smaller companies.

Alliance Atlantis and Vivafilm home video releases were, and continue to be, distributed by Universal Studios Home Entertainment.


  1. Business
  2. CBS eyes a 'CSI' buyout - Entertainment News, TV News, Media - Variety
  3. [1]

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