Tribune Entertainment Co. Thursday responded to critics who charged the syndicator had failed to wrap up any syndication deals for Joan Rivers’ new “Can We Shop” daytime home shopping series.

The program, slated to premiere in January, has been cleared in 24 of the top 30 markets and 11 of the top 12, according to TEC, which is partnered with Barry Diller’s QVC Network and Regal Communications in the venture.

However, the sister Tribune Broadcasting stations account for five of the major market stations committing to the show.

The announcement came amid growing speculation that Trib will soon pull the plug on Rivers’ five-season-old daytime talkshow, which has been lingering around a 1 rating in recent national Nielsen surveys.

“At this point, we’re not ready to announce we’re pulling out,” said a TEC spokesman, who acknowledged that it is “getting tough” with the November sweeps slated to start on Wednesday.

Overall, the talkshow is cleared on 86 stations covering about 82% of the country.

Steve Mulderrig, TEC’s VP and national sales manager, said Trib has received offers from stations in most of the top 50 markets. He insisted the “rest of the opening-day lineup will fall into place as we get closer to the start date.”

Aside from landing on five of the seven Trib stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Atlanta, clearances in the top 12 markets for “Can We Shop” include KTVU, the Cox-owned Fox affil in the San Francisco Bay Area; the Paramount station group (encompassing its stations in D.C., Detroit, Houston and Dallas); and the Gillett stations in Cleveland and Milwaukee.