Haiti special raises $13.5 million

The joint fundraising effort by the big three networks is hailed as a success as over 2.4 million tune in, leading into US telethon.

A hastily organized one-hour telethon for victims of the earthquake in Haiti is being billed a success after Canada’s big three networks raised $27 million for relief efforts in the island nation.

Friday’s commercial-free special Canada for Haiti collected $13.5 million, an amount that will be matched by the federal government. The 7 p.m. telecast, which aired simultaneously on CBC, Global, CTV and its sister channels MTV, MuchMusic, Citytv and National Geographic Channel, averaged 2.4 million viewers, while over six million tuned in during some part of the broadcast, according to BBM Canada. (All numbers 2+.)

Hosted by Cheryl Hickey, Ben Mulroney and George Stroumboulopoulos, the special featured Celine Dion, Michael J. Fox, Nelly Furtado, The Tragically Hip and other celebrities and musicians appealing for money to help victims of the Jan. 12 earthquake.

The effort was swiftly organized and, despite some behind-the-scenes chaos, aired without a hitch.

“We are so grateful and humbled by the astounding generosity showed by Canadians both during and after the Canada for Haiti concert,” commented Dave Toycen of World Vision Canada in a release. The money will support World Vision, the Canadian Red Cross, Oxfam Canada and other charities.

The special was followed by the US-originated Hope for Haiti telecast, hosted by George Clooney, which also netted 2.4 million viewers combined on the same networks here. The two-hour telethon raised US$58 million and featured celebrities such as Madonna, Stevie Wonder, Bono, Justin Timberlake and Bruce Springsteen.

An estimated 200,000 people have been killed in the quake, including 20 Canadians.

From Playback Daily, with files from Suzan Ayscough