Canadian nets splurge on U.S. shows

Local talent miffed by splurge on States' skeins

Canadian commercial broadcasters are spending record amounts of money on U.S. and foreign TV shows, and local talent isn’t happy about it.

Hundreds of Canuck thesps waving placards reading, “We need more Canada on Canadian TV” rallied outside Toronto’s Hazelton Hotel on June 1, where Canwest-Global was touting its sked. It’s one of three commercial nets, including CTV and Rogers, to unveil fall and midseason primetime skeds packed with new and returning U.S. network shows gleaned from the recent L.A. screenings.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission recently revealed commercial broadcasters spent a record $846.3 million on U.S. and foreign shows last season, $100 million more than 2008, and just $75.4 million on Canuck shows.

ACTRA, the union representing Canadian English-language media talent, took advantage of the upfront event to let broadcasters know they will lobby hard during 2011 license renewal hearings for the regulatory agency to boost exhibition and spending requirements on Canadian content.

TV content is beginning to trickle from Canada to the U.S. Canwest exec VP of content Barb Williams countered the protest by showcasing Global’s summer series “Rookie Blue” (simulcast in the U.S. by ABC), a Canadian-made cop soap following five rookies.

CBS has picked up a second season of the Canuck-made “Flashpoint” and “The Bridge.”

Canuck skeds, meanwhile remain packed with U.S. shows. In fact, this fall’s timeslot battles will likely reflect many of the nightly tussles south of the border, with the majority of U.S. shows airing in simulcast with the U.S. networks. CTV fills 18 out of 21 primetime slots with simulcast programming, while Global has 15 such slots.

CTV has nabbed “The Conan O’Brien Show” (TBS) for its flagship web and Comedy Network latenight blocks, and secured Simon Cowell’s “The X Factor” for 2011; while Canwest, which has seen increasing success among its specialty channels, announced it will launch the Global Reality channel in July.

Meanwhile, Rogers’ Citytv announced it will slot new fare from producer heavyweights Jerry Bruckheimer — NBC’s “Chase” and ABC’s “The Whole Truth” — and J.J. Abrams’ spy drama “Undercovers” (NBC), amid several returning shows on its primetime sked, including “Parenthood,” “30 Rock” and “Fringe” (wrestled from CTV’s sister network A).

In the fall, Global bows original Canadian series “Shattered,” starring Callum Keith Rennie (“Battlestar Galactica”) as a cop with a multiple-personality disorder.

Global’s other U.S. buys preeming this fall include “Hawaii Five-O” (CBS), Jimmy Smits starrer “Outlaw” (NBC), anthology series “Love Bites” (NBC), conman drama “Lonestar” (Fox), midseason cop drama “Ride-Along” (Fox), call-center sitcom “Outsourced” (Fox) and yet-to-be-scheduled family drama “Raising Hope” (Fox).

If top Canuck network CTV’s buzzword last fall was “stability,” this fall it’s “shuffle,” with popular shows — “Two and a Half Men,” “Medium” and “Criminal Minds” (Canada’s third-ranked show last season) — moving to sister network A.

Anchored by returning series “Grey’s Anatomy,” the “CSI” franchise and Canada’s top-rated sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” CTV makes room for several new series, including superhero family drama “No Ordinary Family” (ABC), buddy lawyer skein “The Defenders” (CBS), “Law and Order: LA” (NBC), cop drama “Blue Bloods” (CBS) and Twitter-inspired sitcom “$#*! My Dad Says” (CBS), starring William Shatner.

Midseason highlights include Matthew Perry starrer “Mr. Sunshine” (ABC); Renaissance drama “The Borgias” (Showtime), which co-stars popular Canuck thesp Colm Feore; and Paula Abdul’s “Got to Dance” (CBS).

CTV’s popular domestic cop series “Flashpoint,” newcomer “The Bridge” and sitcoms “Hiccups” and “Dan for Mayor” are renewed, but won’t air until next year.

Pubcaster CBC announced its fall sked the previous week. It includes the sophomore season of reality show “Battle of the Blades,” the final season of “The Tudors,” returning series “Being Erica” and new sitcom “Men With Brooms.” All are Canadian productions or co-productions.

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