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Space, also known as Space Channel and formerly branded Space: The Imagination Station, is a Canadian specialty cable network which has been in operation since 1997. Established as the Canadian equivalent of the American Sci Fi Channel, Space was initially established to show a mixture of science fiction and science programming, with a heavy emphasis on Canadian content. (Over time, the science programming aspect has been reduced considerably.)
The network has had an on-again, off-again relationship with the Doctor Who franchise. Early on, it aired the classic series in the usual half-hour instalments, initially in high-profile time slots, but over time as viewership waned, Space eventually moved the show to a middle-of-the-night time slot before dropping it altogether in the late 1990s. The network also aired rebroadcasts of the 1996 telefilm.
Although not broadcast by them, the Who franchise would be recognised by Space in the mid-2000s when its annual awards show, the Spaceys, included nominations for both the series itself and Billie Piper in its 2006 ceremony (neither won).
In 2008, Space returned to the Who franchise by picking up Torchwood after it had been cancelled by the CBC; Space subsequently aired the second season of Torchwood in the summer of 2008 (followed by a rebroadcast of the first two seasons in 2009). Unlike the CBC, which chose to edit out several minutes from each Season 1 episode in order to fit a 60-minute time slot including commercial breaks (as well as to censor some content such as language), Space airs Torchwood in a 65-minute timeslot to minimise the need for such edits, and the episodes are aired uncensored.
Following the CBC's heavily criticised editing of the Doctor Who series 4 finale, Journey's End in December 2008, there were calls for Space to take over broadcasts of the parent series from the CBC. Initially, Space denied it had any plans to broadcast the new Doctor Who.
However, on 14 March 2009 Space broadcast the 2008 Doctor Who Christmas special, The Next Doctor, which the CBC had chosen not to air. It was later reported on fan websites that Space had acquired the rights to the subsequent specials and 2010 season for broadcast.
On 1 June 2009, Space officially announced that it had obtained the Canadian broadcast rights to Doctor Who, beginning with the ongoing 2009 specials and continuing with Series 5 in 2010, along with the Torchwood: Children of Earth miniseries. Space also obtained rebroadcast rights to Series 1 through 4 beginning in March 2010 when the CBC's licence for those programmes expired, with the exception of Voyage of the Damned, the rights to which were acquired by Space in April 2010.
On 20 July 2009, Space began broadcasting the Children of Earth arc, with episodes shown virtually uncut and uncensored in a 75-minute timeslot (including commercial breaks) — in a first, Space's broadcasts coincided with that of BBC America, although both networks still aired the mini-series several weeks after the BBC. Torchwood was followed on 25th July by a similarly intact broadcast of the first of the 2009 specials, Planet of the Dead, albeit several months after the BBC. Both Children of Earth and Planet of the Dead were released to DVD in a cross-promotion with Space the Tuesday following their broadcast, and Space also made the episodes available for online viewing.
Space aired The Waters of Mars special on 19 December 2009, a month after the UK broadcast. The final 2009 specials, the two-part The End of Time, aired together on 2nd January 2010, one week after the UK and US broadcasts of part 1, but only a day after the UK broadcast of Part 2 (and the same day as BBC America aired Part 2 in the US). The End of Time aired as the finale of a daylong marathon of Doctor Who and Torchwood episodes and was allotted a sufficiently large timeslot to allow it to air virtually unedited, even with commercial interruption. To correspond with the broadcasts, Space dedicated the 2009 year-end edition of its entertainment news programme, InnerSPACE, to Doctor Who.
The CBC provided some funding to the BBC for its production of Doctor Who during the first four seasons, and for Torchwood during its first season (although the fanzine Enlightenment has suggested the arrangement was more promotional than substantially financial). It is not known if this arrangement continues with Space.
Space is currently (2010) owned by the CTVglobemedia conglomerate, which also operates the country's major national commercial network, CTV. This has resulted in advertisements for Doctor Who and Torchwood appearing on CTV in cross-promotion. For example, promos for Children of Earth were shown during CTV broadcasts of the UK series Merlin (featuring Torchwood co-star Eve Myles in an early episode and recurring appearances by Planet of the Dead co-star Michelle Ryan) in June and July 2009. (Space would air Merlin itself beginning in the spring of 2010.)
On 17 April 2010, Space, in conjunction with BBC America, began airing series 5. Once again, episodes aired virtually uncut, albeit several weeks after the UK. Broadcasts of Series 5 were scheduled to conclude on 24 July 2010, which will include a live discussion broadcast following the airing of the finale.
Space aired the 2010 Christmas Special, A Christmas Carol, on Boxing Day 2010.
Space has also embraced older episodes of the revival. Beginning on 31 May 2010, Space began airing reruns of series 1 to 4 four nights a week in a prime-time timeslot. It has also announced that on 24 July, following the broadcast of the series 5 finale, that it would air Voyage of the Damned for the first time on English-language Canadian TV.
In 2011, leading up to the broadcast of Torchwood: Miracle Day, Space showed a marathon of every Torchwood episode prior. In the second half of series 6 of Doctor Who, Space showed some original broadcasts noting the greatest moments of series 5 and the first half of series 6, with each focusing on an aspect of the show, such as the companions or villains.
Each year at Christmas, the channel broadcasts a special twelve-day marathon entitled "The Twelve Days of Space-mas", during which each day features its own marathon of shows. In 2010, Doctor Who featured on 26 December, with Star Trek featuring on Christmas day. During the Marathon, The Christmas Invasion, The Runaway Bride, Voyage of the Damned, The Next Doctor, Planet of the Dead, The Waters of Mars, The End of Time, and A Christmas Carol were shown. By 2011, Doctor Who had been promoted to Christmas Day, with the entirety of series 6 being broadcast, leading up to The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe.
Space's broadcasting schedule revolves largely around Doctor Who, with episodes being broadcast daily. At a Toronto convention called "FanExpo", the hosts of the channel gave out exclusively Doctor Who-related merchandise.