ABC verifies plan to shelve ‘Shirley’

Canadian broadcaster CTV and Adderly Prods. yesterday confirmed they had been advised that their talkshow “Shirley” won’t join ABC’s daytime program lineup in April, as reported (Daily Variety, Feb. 25).

Why the program won’t be on the schedule, however, still remains a mystery.

An ABC spokeswoman reiterated that the network had no comment and representatives of CTV had no answers.

“Our deal with ABC is a firm deal,” Arthur Weinthal, VP of entertainment programming for CTV, said in a statement. “However, ABC, and indeed, any other broadcaster worldwide, always has the right to air, or not to air, any program that they license.”

According to sources familiar with the deal, ABC has a pay-or-play contract for more than 200 episodes of the show, meaning it will have to pay distributor D.L. Taffner whether or not it airs the hourlong audience-participation show.

“Shirley” was scheduled to debut on ABC April 12 as a replacement for the five-year-old “Home” show. ABC announced the deal in January and vowed to give the program the time it needed to gain an audience in the competitive daytime slot.

Low-cost solution

For ABC the program was viewed as a low-cost attempt to build clearance levels in the midday time slot, which now covers roughly 75% of the U.S. The remainder of ABC’s daytime schedule is cleared in more than 80% of the country and into the 90% range for the latter part of its schedule, its high-rated soaps.

As for “Shirley,” which is hosted by Shirley Solomon and produced in Toronto, CTV intends to renew the talker for another season starting in September. The show has been airing in Canada since 1989.

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