Canuck broadcasters likely absent at upfronts

Instead will fly directly to Los Angeles for deal-making

TORONTO -- Canadian broadcasters will mostly be no-shows at next week's U.S. network upfront presentations to advertisers in New York City.

The Canucks will instead fly directly to Los Angeles for deal-making with their Hollywood suppliers from May 17, in the same week as the May upfronts.

In previous years, Canadian broadcasters attended the upfront presentations before flying west to the informal Screenings market to shell out for new shows alongside international buyers.

But this year the Canucks, who do volume buying via output deals, have already been mostly briefed on new pilots and cancellations, leaving them ready to finalize their fall schedules by screening rookie pilots next week.

Officially, the Canadians are set to do their deal-making on Friday, May 21, but will likely jump the gun and conclude the bulk of their deal-making before the week's end.

Privately, the Canadians indicate that, in an age of video-conferencing, it doesn't make sense financially or time-wise to be on the ground at the upfront presentations before flying to the Screenings.

Canadian network execs can either see the upfront presentations from their offices in Toronto, or their Los Angeles bases, via live or recorded video feeds.

What's more, the upfront presentations offer snippets of new pilots, and the Canadians want to see full episodes in Los Angeles as soon as possible.

The Canucks will also front-end load their studio screenings early next week with their traditional suppliers.

Canwest Global tends to volume buy with CBS Studios International TV, Sony Pictures Television International and 20th Century Fox Television Distribution, while rival CTV saddles up to Warner Bros. International TV and Disney/ABC International Television to fill its shopping basket.

NBC Universal last year split its product mostly between Rogers Media, which returns this year to buy for its Citytv local stations and OMNI-branded stations, and Canwest Global's Global Television network.

Besides calling the Canadians to Los Angeles early to do their business, their studio suppliers will also learn next week whether they can continue an enviable record of securing primetime series price hikes from the Canucks, despite a TV ad slump and the economic downturn.