CBC criticized for amount of American TV

Pubcaster addressing growing revenue shortfall

TORONTO -- Even as the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.'s top brass hold two days of strategy meetings in Ottawa, the pubcaster is continuing to come under fire for scheduling too much American fare in primetime.

Federal heritage minister James Moore was asked during a Sunday night TV show appearance in Quebec for his view on the current level of U.S. programming on the CBC schedule.

"Frankly, I can tell you I don't like it when I see the CBC canceling Canadian content, and we see' Jeopardy!' and 'Wheel of Fortune,' " Moore told the CBC/Radio Canada talk show Tout le Monde en Parle.

Last week, the CBC, which acquired the two U.S. game shows last year, canceled or put on hiatus two lifestyle series, "Fashion File" and "Steve and Chris."

Moore's comments came as the pubcaster attempts to address a growing shortfall in TV ad revenue during the recession, a gap that Ottawa said it will not help close with new public money.

Among the revenue-raising measures being considered at the two-day senior management meeting is the possible introduction of more U.S. fare onto the schedule as a way of subsidizing Canadian content production.

But Stephen Waddell, national executive director of Canadian actors union ACTRA, said the CBC should instead cut back sharply on American fare to distinguish itself from private sector rivals.

"Clearly, (Moore) has been listening to us. He's saying the CBC cannot sustain itself in terms of being a viable public broadcaster if it continues down this road as a commercial/public broadcaster," Waddell said.

Ian Morrison, a spokesman for the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, which represents 50,000 domestic TV viewers, said the CBC's revenue shortfall springs equally from the recession and the public broadcaster having overpaid for American game shows that did not meet "rosy" sales projections.

"For the minister to say the CBC shouldn't be buying American shows ... that's a shot across the bow," Morrison said.

The CBC senior management meeting wraps Tuesday.

Executives at the CBC were not available for comment.
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