Canadians plan subdued upfront sessions

No parade of U.S. talent or glitzy parties expected

TORONTO -- There will be no parade of U.S. talent at the Canadian upfront presentations in early June as domestic broadcasters tone down their fall 2009 primetime launches to reflect hard times.

The Canadians will this year hold road shows for domestic ad agencies directly after the Los Angeles Screenings, rather than their traditional star-studded affairs that include stage shows with U.S. primetime series talent and a glitzy after-party.

Canadian primetime ratings leader CTV plans a series of "Up Close" events where agencies and ad buyers will receive individual boardroom presentations on June 2 and 4, to be followed by an informal party on CTV lot at the end of the second day.

CTV plans to sprinkle its June 4 party with local talent already on the ground in Toronto, and not import U.S. stars or talent from elsewhere in Canada.

Despite the 2008 WGA strike, CTV last year held a star-studded soiree at Toronto's Four Seasons Center for the Performing Arts, while rival Global Television packed around 1,500 media buyers and press into the nearby Elgin Theatre to unveil its new and returning U.S. series.

This year, Global Television also plans to scale back its annual spring pitch to media buyers on June 3 in both size and expense.

And the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. said it will host low-key presentations for media buyers with fewer CBC talent at its Toronto headquarters, and then unveil its fall 2009 schedule for the local media in September.

The Canadians are taking their lead from the U.S. broadcast networks as they opt for subdued upfront presentations during the current recession (HR, April 26).