CBC slammed for airing American shows. Again.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before…

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is being criticized by governmental leaders and actor unions for airing too much American programming on the public network – a practice it has been doing for decades.

The controversy comes as CBC dropped two Canadian-produced newsmagazine/lifestyle shows: Fashion File and Steven & Chris, due to low ratings and current economic conditions, but kept CBS Television Distribution’s higher-rated Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, the latter featuring Canadian native Alex Trebek.

CBC acquired the game shows from CBS Television Distribution International after a lengthy run on private broadcaster CTV. Wheel airs in early fringe at 5:30 p.m. and Jeopardy! in prime access at 7:30 p.m. Here in the states, many stations pair the two game shows in access to run together, including WABC-TV in New York and KABC-TV in Los Angeles.

Heritage Minister James Moore slammed the move of canceling the home-grown product, quoted as saying:”Frankly, I can tell you I don’t like it when I see the CBC canceling Canadian content, and we see Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune.” The pol made the comment Sunday night on a Radio-Canada (SRC) talk show in Quebec.

The move comes as the cash-strapped public broadcaster (isn’t it always?) is struggling to produce ad revenue while financial help from Ottawa has been cut.

CBC has taken heat before for airing U.S. fare, which special interest groups have complained about for decades. In the mid-1990’s, CBC took American programming off from 8 to 11 p.m. and aired only Canadian programming and other foreign shows. Popular shows included This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Royal Canadian Air Farce (which recently ended its long run), and DaVinci’s Inquest, which currently airs in sydicated reruns in the U.S. The most popular export was Friday night staple The Kids in the Hall, which found a home in the states on CBS, HBO, and Comedy Central.

Past programming that has aired in prime-time on CBC included Dallas, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Golden Girls, Happy Days, The Nanny, and Welcome Back Kotter.

CBC currently strips The Simpsons weekdays at 5 p.m. and has done so since 1994 under a long-term syndication deal. Other American programming currently airing in daytime hours includes Fraiser and Martha (Martha Stewart’s talk show.) Past programs stripped in afternoon time periods included The Addams Family, Fresh Prince, The Golden Girls, Star Trek: The Original Series, WKRP in Cincinnati, and The Wonder Years.

Thought: The arguments being made here in this day and age are quite pointless. In an era of the Internet, Cable TV, and DVDs, these guys seem to be stuck in the 1970’s. The targeting of American programming – but not other foreign programming (Coronation Street, from the UK) is quite hypocritical and makes politicians and these groups look like total fools. Maybe the reason why Fashion File and Steven & Chris flopped with Canadian viewers because… the shows weren’t good? Wow, a novel concept! Kids, Cold Squad, Da Vinci’s, Night Heat, 22 Minutes, Air Farce and any Degrassi series are textbook examples of Canadian programs with good writing and good production values. It can be done, you know. Maybe the whiners should take take that into consideration before opening their mouths.

I agree the CBC should air more Canadian programming – but you have to get people in the tent somehow. The only way to do it is to air established programming – no matter where it comes from. Nobody said competing with better funded private broadcasters CTV and Global was easy.

This argument isn’t new – yours truly has followed Canadian TV programming since the early 1990’s and the same whiners are still – well, whining. After all, the United States doesn’t have a monopoly when it comes to clueless politicians and idiot special-interest groups.

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2 responses to CBC slammed for airing American shows. Again.


  1. White Shadow

    Considering that Canadian taxpayers are paying for the CBC, the criticism of the network for not airing enough Canadian content is not surprising and may be justified. Some Canadians feel that the C$1 billion in funding that CBC gets from their government annually should be used on Canadian produced programming instead of US imports such as “Wheel of Fortune”. American programming is being specifically targeted in part because of the Canadians’ “inferiority complex” against the US. They fear that their Canadian identity is slowing becoming “Americanized”.

    However, the CBC will always have difficulty creating Canadian produced content because many of their brightest English-language actors, producers, and directors leave Canada for New York and Hollywood. By comparision, the CBC-owned French-language TV network “Radio-Canada” continues to lead among French-speaking Canadians because Quebec does a better job at keeping their talent at home. English-language Canadian television will improve once they find a way to keep their talent in Canada.

  2. T Dog

    Good post and analysis, “White Shadow” (one of my favorite TV shows, BTW.) Thanks for your input.