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U.S. quest for ‘Inquest’

'Da Vinci' hunts for auds

This article was corrected on Monday, March 28 at 7:30 p.m.

NEW YORK — The smash ratings chalked up by reruns of “CSI” in off-network syndication this season have helped to propel “Da Vinci’s Inquest,” a similar Canadian police procedural, onto TV stations reaching 70% of the U.S. for a fall debut.

“CSI” reruns are averaging 9 million total viewers since they began in syndication in September. Ritch Colbert, a principal in Program Partners, which distributes “Inquest” in the U.S., says many stations will pair his show with “CSI” after the late news on Saturday and Sunday.

Stations including WCBS New York and KCBS Los Angeles have picked up the show for two years and will play two different episodes each weekend. Instead of paying cash to Colbert, the stations give Program Partners seven minutes of commercial time in each “Inquest” hour to sell to national advertisers. (The stations keep seven minutes for local sale.)

Colbert has bought the U.S. rights to 91 hours of “Inquest” from Thunderbird Films, a Vancouver company headed by Tim Gamble and Michael Shephard. They shoot the show in Vancouver for about $1.1 million an episode. Skein is produced by Haddock Entertainment and Barna-Alper Prods.

Once Program Partners has secured full clearance of the show in syndication, Colbert said, he’ll start pitching it to cable networks such as Spike, USA, A&E and TNT. Colbert has reserved the right to sell the Monday-Friday runs to cable, also beginning this fall.

Other stations taking “Inquest” include KYW Philadelphia, KPIX San Francisco, WBZ Boston, WSB Atlanta, WWJ Detroit, KOMO Seattle, WFOR Miami and WCCO Minneapolis.

Show has won Canada’s Gemini award for dramatic series six years in a row.

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