CanWest unveils fall lineup, takes on CTV


TORONTO -- Canadian broadcaster CanWest MediaWorks on Wednesday unveiled a fall lineup filled with new U.S. programming as well as the launch of the U.S.-based E! network in Canada in September.

This coming TV season, CanWest MediaWorks -- which runs two parallel networks in Canada, Global Television and CH -- will challenge rival CTV for dominance of Canadian primetime after buying rookie U.S. series and renewing return series at the recent Los Angeles Screenings.

CanWest MediaWorks pitched domestic advertisers on a host of fresh blood Wednesday in Toronto, including the simulcast of NBC's "Journeyman" on Global Television on Monday nights, going up against "CSI: Miami" simulcast on CTV, and the Jimmy Smits-starring CBS drama "Cane" on Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. opposite "Law and Order: SVU" on CTV.

Barbara Williams, senior vp programming and production at CanWest MediaWorks, said the strategy of simulcasts of Fox's "Prison Break" on Monday nights at 8 p.m. and NBC "Heroes" at 9 p.m. provide ballast for "Journeyman" at 10 p.m., while Fox's "House" at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, another hit series north of the border, is meant to help "Cane" at 10 p.m.

CanWest MediaWorks also retooled Wednesday nights on Global Television, beginning with the simulcast of the Fox sitcom "Back to You," starring Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton at 8 p.m., with NBC's "Life" airing at 10 p.m.

CanWest MediaWorks, which did bulk buying in Los Angeles from Sony Pictures Television International, 20th Century Fox Television Distribution and CBS Paramount International TV, only tinkered with Global Television's Thursday night, rescheduling CBS' "Survivor" at 8 p.m., followed by "The Office" at 9 p.m. in simulcast and "My Name Is Earl," also from NBC, postreleased at 9:30 p.m.

Playing catch-up in Canadian primetime to CTV, the current Canadian ratings leader, CanWest MediaWorks will maximize opportunities to simulcast or air U.S. shows in the same time slot they hold south of the border, and replace American commercials with Canadian ones to drive advertising revenues.

CanWest MediaWorks' Williams also said Global Television has more returning series in its second or third years with room to grow in the future, compared with CTV, which has in stalwart shows like "ER," the "Law and Order" franchise and even "American Idol" series, whose audiences began to cool off last season.

"We have strong, returning hits, and they're fresh hits," she said, the lone exception being CBS' "Survivor" on Thursday nights.

CanWest MediaWorks will also launch in September E!, the rebranded, free, over-the-air network that stems from a multiplatform agreement with Comcast Entertainment Group's U.S.-based E! Networks.

The Canadianized E! will air a raft of E! shows originating from the U.S. during the daytime, and "E! News" nightly at 7 p.m.

The new channel, which marks the first time E! airs as an over-the-air network, will also air NBC's "Deal or No Deal" on Monday nights at 8 p.m., followed by the simulcast of Fox's "K-Ville" at 9 p.m. and E!'s "Rich Kids: Cattle Drive" at 10 p.m.

On Tuesday nights, the reality series "The Biggest Loser" will air at 8 p.m., followed by E!'s "Dr. 90210" reality series at 9 p.m. (with Sony Pictures Television International's "Cashmere Mafia" as a midseason replacement), followed by the fourth season of "Boston Legal" airing at 10 p.m.

Wednesday nights will see the rookie CBS reality series "Kid Nation" simulcast at 8 p.m., followed by NBC's "Bionic Woman" at 9 p.m., and E!'s "The Simple Life" at 10 p.m.

E! will air movies on Thursday night, with the newly acquired ABC drama "Women's Murder Club" airing in simulcast at 9 p.m. on Friday nights.

CanWest MediaWorks will draw heavily from the E! catalog for its weekend scheduling, with "E! Live," "On E!" and "E! True Hollywood Story" anchoring Saturday night, and "E! Countdowns" and "E! Live" airing on Sunday nights.

Also on Sunday night is CBS' "Viva Laughlin" in prerelease at 7 p.m.

As at rival Canadian networks, CanWest MediaWorks has chosen to schedule much of its required Canadian programming midseason to fill in slots left vacant by canceled U.S. series.