CTV takes wraps off fall sked

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TORONTO -- Taking its turn at the Canadian upfront presentations, CTV on Monday unveiled a fall schedule with six new U.S. dramas and one comedy added to its primetime lineup.

For Canada's top-rated network, securing simulcast slots for its rookie series has proven challenging, with the return of 16 top-20 hits, including the "CSI" franchise and such ABC hits as "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost."

For example, CTV said it will pre-release ABC's "Private Practice," the newly acquired "Grey's Anatomy" spinoff, Wednesday nights at 8 p.m., as it already airs CBS' "Criminal Minds" at 9 p.m. -- the same slot it fills south of the border.

CTV also isshaking up its powerhouse Thursday-night lineup, again to play to strength. The network is taking NBC's "ER," a perennial hit for the Canadian broadcaster, out of its 10 p.m. simulcast slot and airing it at 7 p.m. That will make way for a new acquisition, ABC's "Big Shots," at 10 p.m.

In addition, CTV is switching "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" from last year's simulcast slot at 9 p.m. to 8 p.m., and airing "Grey's Anatomy" in 9 p.m. simulcast slot due to its building strength last season.

Other examples include the airing of newly purchased ABC drama "Dirty Sexy Money" on Sunday nights at 10 p.m., rather than on Wednesday nights where it already has "CSI: New York" performing well; while ABC's "Pushing Daisies" will air on Tuesday nights, rather than Wednesday, as in the U.S. market.

Other new U.S. series picked up at the recent Los Angeles Screenings include CW's "Gossip Girl," CBS' "Moonlight" and two Warner Bros. comedies: "Men in Trees" and "Two and a Half Men."

"With 16 returning top-20 hits, we've taken a bulletproof schedule and made it stronger," Susanne Boyce, CTV president of programming, said of the strategy to using returning hits to bolster new U.S. acquisitions.

For its pitch Monday to domestic advertisers in Toronto, CTV brought in former Dallas Cowboys coach and current FOX Sports' analyst Jimmy Johnson to tub-thump for the Canadian broadcaster's acquisition of regular season National Football League game for Sunday afternoons as well as the rights to the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl game.

CTV also announced that it has acquired the Canadian TV rights to the July 7 "Live Earth" concert.

Rival CanWest MediaWorks will conclude the Canadian upfronts with its own pitch to advertisers on Wednesday.

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