Local hits power CBC fall lineup

'Little Mosque,' 'Border' among series

TORONTO -- With Canadian TV shows beginning to trump U.S. imports in primetime, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. on Thursday unveiled that rarest of fall season offerings here -- returning homegrown hits.

"People were used to the CBC not having returning shows, because we weren't in the series business," Kirstine Layfield, executive director of network programming at CBC Television, said at a press launch.

Next week, the public broadcaster will bow the sophomore season of "The Border," a drama about customs officials battling the bad guys on the Canada-U.S. border, and the third season of "Little Mosque on the Prairie," whose U.S. format rights were recently picked up by 20th Century Fox.

Other returning series include "The Tudors," a co-production with Showtime, and the comedy "Sophie," which was picked up by ABC Family.

The CBC also acquired game shows "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune" for the 7 p.m. slot to help lead into primetime.

In recent years, the pubcaster has debuted new series in January, away from the U.S. series-dominated fall TV season. Homegrown shows that caught traction with Canadian TV viewers were then brought back in the fall for their second and third seasons.

Layfield said popular Canadian dramas on rival networks like CTV and Global Television has made the job of the Canadian TV programmer a bit simpler amid gathering competition from U.S. network series and the Internet.

"It makes me happy as long as there's a vibrant industry, and we don't lose people to the states, or have to leave the business because there's no work," she argued.