CBC looks to replace US game shows with local fare

Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune's reign in the 7 to 8 p.m. slot could be over as the pubcaster looks for more homegrown flavour.

The CBC has locally produced game shows, talk shows and a Canadian drama in development to eventually replace Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! as lead-ins to its prime-time schedule.

‘We’re in development right now on Canadian shows which could fit the slot, so really the transition would be dependant upon getting the right shows into production,’ Kirstine Stewart, executive vice president of English TV, said.

A looming end to the US game show simulcasts marks a subtle programming shift for the public broadcaster after CBC president Hubert Lacroix in November defended the CBC’s use of American syndicated game shows to draw a prime-time audience for its Canadian-made shows.

Lacroix told a CBC online townhall meeting that Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, acquired from CBS Paramount International Television in 2008, were cheaper to air than homegrown shows, and ‘raise the awareness of the rest of our programming schedule.’

But Stewart, who was recently named the permanent replacement atop the CBC’s English TV service for Richard Stursberg, said her network was getting out of the US syndicated game show game.

The CBC appears to have in mind more than the cheaply produced game shows like Definition and Talk About that filled Canadian TV screens during the 1970s and 1980s.

Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, however much they act as lightning rods to cultural nationalists criticizing the CBC for airing American shows, pull in big audiences.

Stewart is betting that recent popular prime-time hits like the Dragon’s Den and Battle of the Blades will convince Canadians to tune into a locally produced game or talk show, and tune away from Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! airing on cross-border US TV stations.

From Playback Daily