U.S. reality show will bump The National on Tuesdays in Ontario, Quebec
TORONTO (CP) - An American reality show will bump CBC's The National from 10 p.m. to 11 o'clock on Tuesdays in Ontario and Quebec for part of the summer, a development that some critics describe as "shocking and surprising."
The reality show is The One, a U.S. series in which young musicians compete for their chance at a recording contract. CBC plans to launch a Canadian version later in 2006 or early in 2007, and airing the American series is intended to "establish a dedicated audience for a new franchise," said CBC spokesman Jeff Keay.
"The One is a simulcast that's going to be happening on Tuesday nights between July 18 and Sept. 5," Keay said Tuesday. "That simulcast happens between 9 and 11 in the central Toronto-Quebec time zone, so as a result of that The National will be temporarily moved to 11."
The National, anchored by Peter Mansbridge, will not be affected from Manitoba westward, he said. In Atlantic Canada, the news will be broadcast before the simulcast.
"The view from here is that, given the fact that it is a simulcast, in a perfect world I don't think we would have moved any programs around," Keay said.
"But I guess given the potential value of trying to establish an audience for, frankly what we think is a new and pretty attractive program, we're willing to make this temporary move, recognizing that not everybody will be comfortable with it."
The group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting described the move as "shocking and surprising." Spokesperson Ian Morrison said it suggests there are things other than hockey that the CBC thinks are more important than the news.
"We think this is kind of a low day for the CBC," he said. "News doesn't stop just because it's July. It strikes me as an attempt to build audience as opposed to serve the public."
Morrison said CBC has a mission that involves explaining Canada to Canadians, and not importing American commercial programming.
Last October, CBC president Robert Rabinovitch told a Commons Heritage committee that "we don't do reality programming. If we only were chasing rating points, we could do reality programming."
But last week as the public broadcaster announced its lineup of future shows, and no less than three new reality-based programs were unveiled: The One; a live quiz show Test the Nation: National IQ Test; and Dragon's Den, in which aspiring entrepreneurs have to pitch their way to financial backing.
At rival CTV, the reality-show search for singing talent, Canadian Idol, has been a consistent ratings winner.
Keay was asked if the Canadian version of The One could also potentially bump Mansbridge and The National down the road.
"I suspect we'd have a little more latitude given that it wouldn't be a simulcast," he replied.