Hollywood TV shows on Canada election radar

US imports like Desperate Housewives and Survivor have become an election issue in Canada as the local TV industry demands action to protect and fund homegrown series facing stiff competition from Hollywood.

Many entertainment-industry representatives weighed in Thursday to add their voices to demands raised this week by the country's actors union that local TV programs get better air space.

As Canada's four main political parties stake out positions in the lead-up to a January 23 national vote, numerous cultural groups urged federal politicians to ensure more prime-time shelf space for homegrown TV shows.

Operating astride the American market, Canadian broadcasters have long depended on US network hits to drive their prime-time schedules. Currently, the CSI franchise and ABC hits like Desperate Housewives, Lost, and Grey's Anatomy are doing big numbers for market-leading CTV, while rival CanWest Media Works, which operates two national networks here, is drawing its biggest audiences with reality series like Survivor and Fear Factor.

Gail Martiri, director of policy at the Writers Guild of Canada, called on the next federal government to inject another CAN$95 million ($82 million) into the Canadian Television Fund, the main source of subsidies for independent producers looking to get their shows onto prime-time schedules here, with a focus on homegrown dramas.

"Those are the shows reflecting Canada to Canadians and using the most talent," Martiri said.

At a press conference held Wednesday by the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, actress Wendy Crewson said, "Unfortunately, Canadians are overwhelmed by Hollywood content from American broadcasters. They're dumping their product into Canada."

Jumping into the fray the next day was Guy Mason, CEO and president of the Canadian Film and Television Production Association (CFTPA), which represents major independent producers. He urged Ottawa to reinstate the minimum drama content and expenditure requirements for Canadian private broadcasters that were eliminated in 1999.

"We'd like to see the Canadian content strengthened and we'd like to see the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) playing a larger role in ensuring a more equitable relationship between broadcasters and producers," Mason said in an interview.

Despite an end to spending requirements, Canadian private broadcasters still must air homegrown shows in at least 50 percent of prime-time slots here.

Only CTV's Corner Gas and the CBC's Hockey Night in Canada routinely make it into the top 20 of most-watched TV shows in Canada. Critics insist private broadcasters too often push indigenous shows to the margins of their schedules, reserving the best prime-time slots for popular US series.

Glenn O'Farrell, president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, representing private broadcasters, argued, "The suggestion that the CRTC turn the clock back and reintroduce spending levels doesn't make any sense, at this stage."

Comments (9)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
Blame Canada!
Reply
Flag
Problem - Networks don't show good canadian programs

Solution - Networks give preferred airtime to higher rater US produced shows

Problem - Because of this Canadian Producers must first sell their show to a US Audience

Solution - CSI produced by Alliance Atlantis

Problem - CSI Produces so much money for AA that they stop ALL production of ALL other shows.

Whats the problem here? There ARE no good Canadian shows being produced, unless you count Battlestar Galactica, which is only produced in Canada, but not written here.

There are not enough people here to support a whole schedule of Canadian Made Prime Time Programs. And our government should not be spending its money.... sorry, MY money, on subsidizing low rated, or NO rated shows. I am actually a Canadian Producer, and might one day need the Telefund, but if you read the requirements to actually getting at that money, you only come away asking yourself one question.

"Who will even want to watch that once its done"

Not I...

--malocite
Reply
Flag
Until there are Canadian shows worth watching that have some decent talent in them and aren't against some of my favourite shows in prime-time, I don't think that I will be watching anything in the near future. There are a few shows that I will watch because they are good quality shows, but those are few and far between. What about having decent directors and writers staff these shows instead of them going south border? It's not going to happen because if you have talent in the entertainment industry, you are going to go the States, where your talent can be used for what it is worth.

I have to agree with some of the other reviewers in that America has the most to offer anybody who wants to make it in the "business". If there was a show that was similiar to "ER" and "Third Watch" in their quality and scope on Canadian TV, I might watch. But since that isn't going to happen anytime soon, I probably won't be watching much Canadian produced TV for the time being.
Reply
Flag
CTV airs some pretty good canadian shows (better than CBC). what about "Degrassi: The Next Generation" and "Instant Star", which both air on CTV and are aired in more than 120 countries... these shows are also on The-N (a US network for teens). this network also has a deal with CTV to produce a new canadian series called "Whistler". these 3 shows air in the states... it sounds pretty impressive to me! :)Also, "Falcon Beach" a Global show, will be airing on ABC Family this summer. so a few of our shows are shown in the states but on minor networks.... BTW these shows are shown during primetime.
Reply
Flag
Trailer park boys is the only good canadian show.
Reply
Flag
It seems to me that the Canadian broadcasters not only need to produce better content, but also try to sell it internationally too. I mean, I'm in the UK and I've never even heard of "Corner Gas" until today! Looking at the show, the cast are "unknown" to me as well, which might explain why it's not selling around the world? On a tangential topic, it does amuse me greatly that "Stargate Atlantis" is getting aired in Canada 5 weeks ahead of the US :-)
Reply
Flag
The problem is keeping Canadian talent in Canada. The ideas and talent is there, but most Canadians get turned down here, and then go to the USA to get their show on the air or get work, etc...
Reply
Flag
I'm not saying that Candada can't make good shows, but usualy anyone who is really talanted will get job offers from American shows where they'll get a bigger audience and more money. Nothing can be done about that unless Canadian shows start getting aired on US networks and I don't see that happening.
Reply
Flag
The bottom line Canada produces a few good shows a FEW the rest honestly boring snore fests or just garbage. So imagine if Canada stopped airing American shows all together no one would watch TV. That would never happen but even if Canada gives homegrown shows spots in prime time while American shows are on the American shows are still gonna dominate what we watch. America just has more money to spend on entertainment. More money means more talent and more creative ideas. Even a Canadian writter would sell his/hers scrips for a movie or show to American networks because they would obviously be offered more money. Money really does make the world go round. Amarica just happens to have most, and they just happen to produce the best in movies and television.
Reply
Flag

Like TV.com on Facebook

  • 8:00 pm
    NCIS A Many Splendored Thing
    NEW
    CBS
  •  
    The Wall Ashle and Xandi
    NEW
    NBC
  •  
    The Flash Attack on Gorilla City
    NEW
    CW
  •  
    The Middle Dental Hijinks
    NEW
    ABC
  •  
    New Girl Rumspringa
    NEW
    FOX
  • 8:30 pm
    American Housewife The Man Date
    NEW
    ABC
  •  
    The Mick The Baggage
    NEW
    FOX
  • 9:00 pm
    Bull What's Your Number?
    NEW
    CBS
  •  
    This Is Us Memphis
    NEW
    NBC
  •  
    DC's Legends of Tomorrow Camelot/3000
    NEW
    CW
  •  
    Fresh Off the Boat The Gloves Are Off
    NEW
    ABC
  •  
    Bones The Final Chapter: The Grief and the Girl
    NEW
    FOX
  • 9:30 pm
    The Real O'Neals The Real Confirmation
    NEW
    ABC
  • 10:00 pm
    NCIS: New Orleans End of the Line
    NEW
    CBS
  •  
    Chicago Fire Purgatory
    NEW
    NBC
  •  
    Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Self Control
    NEW
    ABC