Thriller, web series join Radio-Canada sked

French network unveils fall plans, boosted by last-minute handout from CTF.


Despite a $18 million cut to its TV budget, Radio-Canada this week released its new fall lineup with much pomp and a bit of song and dance.

The two-hour launch not only featured a taste of upcoming shows but appearances by some of the network’s most popular stars – former pop singer Mitsou, actress Marina Orsini (Lance et Compte) comic Jean-René Dufort (Infoman) and celebrity journalists Céline Galipeau (Le Téléjournal) and René Homier-Roy, host of the SRC radio morning show.

‘In spite of the difficulties facing Radio-Canada, we are able to launch an exceptionally rich lineup,’ VP Sylvain Lafrance told the roughly 200 people gathered at the network’s offices in east-end Montreal.

The so-called rentrée télé is an annual ritual in Quebec, where nearly all of the top 30 programs are made for a home audience. Throughout the fall, Quebec broadcasters embark on an aggressive, star-infused media campaign to seduce audiences.

SRC is launching four new series in 2009/10, including their flagship drama Aveux (Confession), a 12-episode psychological thriller by playwright Serge Boucher (Pixcom) which will debut Sept. 8 at 9 p.m.

The network’s three other new series will start next winter and include: Trauma, a 10-episode hospital drama written by Fabienne Larouche (Virginie, Scoop); Musee Eden, an historical mystery series set in Montreal; and Mirador, a program about a public relations firm.

Like most broadcasters around the world, SRC is attempting to draw the elusive 21st-century viewer with online programming such as REMYX. The interactive dramatic series, which revolves around the relationship problems of Generation Y, starts Sept. 18 and will include online input from the public. Web series Chroniques d’une mere indigne (Chronicles of an undignified mother) also returns to SRC for a second year in October.

SRC is also bringing back a number of stalwarts such as the daily soap Virginie – now in its 14th season – and weekly dramas L’Auberge du Chien Noir and Providence. Shows such as Les Parent, La Galere, and Les Hauts et les bas de Sophie Paquin are also back.

Like the CBC, SRC’s news department has integrated its web, radio and television divisions to adjust to changing consumer habits. But Lafrance was quick to point out he wants each medium to maintain its distinct identity. ‘The individual personalities of radio, TV and web will stay the same. In five years, all these mediums will still exist separately,’ he said.

Both Lafrance and television chief Louise Lantagne were vague about how they managed to adjust to this year’s budget cuts. But the former CTF board’s decision to divvy up the old fund’s remaining budget among broadcasters before it disbanded helped, says Lantagne. ‘I thank the CTF board,’ she said. Lantagne would not reveal how much SRC got from CTF but noted, ‘It helped us get through this year, especially in terms of supporting drama.’

Under the new Canada Media Fund, which replaces the CTF, CBC/Radio-Canada will likely no longer have access to a guaranteed envelope of cash, as it did in the past.

From Playback Daily