Buyers won’t miss Canadian dramas in fall lineup

What with CTV swapping The Associates for The 11th Hour, the CBC planning just one new series and Global skewing its focus again to reality TV, the outlook for Canadian dramas this fall is pretty grim.

What with CTV swapping The Associates for The 11th Hour, the CBC planning just one new series and Global skewing its focus again to reality TV, the outlook for Canadian dramas this fall is pretty grim.

While media buyers say that the lack of Canadian dramas is not likely to influence their plans, it does have an impact on future opportunities.

Dennis Dinga, VP, director of broadcast buying at Toronto-based M2 Universal says: ‘I don’t see it affecting us much at all because Canadian productions rarely produce huge numbers.’ But, he adds: ‘It’s a shame that we won’t be seeing as many new entries as we’ve seen in previous years, partly because they provide the possibility of doing cross-promotions.

‘Also, it is always nice to have Canadian productions mixed in with the U.S. blockbusters because it extends your advertising reach. It’s not essential but it is of some importance, particularly to Canadian brands.’

Florence Ng, director of broadcast services for Optimedia Canada in Toronto, says: ‘Historically there have never been many Canadian dramas, and the ones that are out there are generally not getting high ratings, so it’s not going to have a major impact on packaging or anything else from a buyer’s standpoint.’

CBC’s lineup shows the most promise so far, in Ng’s opinion. ‘The theme nights work well at attracting viewers and maintaining a consistent flow,’ she says.

Dinga feels that the lineups are fairly equally weighted with Global showing more promise for the younger-skewing brands such as beer and soda companies, while CTV is the station of choice for those, such as banks, which are targeting an older, more upscale demographic.

CTV is also bringing back Degrassi: The Next Generation, and Cold Squad will return in its sixth and likely last season, says Bill Mustos, CTV’s senior VP of dramatic programming.

‘It’s getting tougher and tougher to get [Canadian series] made,’ he says. ‘The international environment is grim. We are having a hard time maintaining budget levels that we had for series two years ago.’ At the same time, CTV is increasing its investment in MOWs.

At the CBC, a new cross-cultural drama series is being produced says Slawko Klymkiw, executive director of network programming. Children’s programming is also on the increase with new titles including The Blobheads and Poko.

Other new-season productions at CBC include four miniseries and eight MOWs along with the tried and true. Vancouver-based coroners series DaVinci’s Inquest and Calgary-made Tom Stone will both return as will Made in Canada. Teen soap Edgemont, Air Farce and This Hour Has 22 Minutes will also make a re-appearance. Veteran non-fiction programs include The Nature of Things, Witness and Life & Times.

Global is betting even more heavily this year on reality television, says Loren Mawhinney, VP of Canadian production. Popstars: Boy Meets Girl and reality adventure show, No Boundaries, debut in March.

‘We’re more into reality-based drama,’ says Mawhinney. ‘How do you find a Canadian series that strikes a similar cord with audiences [as Survivor]? Popstars came close.’

The docusoap Cirque du Soleil, about the lives of members of the famed Canadian circus, also has a slot and Global is buying 30 regional documentaries.

In more traditional drama, meanwhile, Global will bring back cop series Blue Murder. Syndicated series Andromeda is back, as is Mutant X. Global is doing no MOWs and Black Fly is cancelled.

With files from Lucy Saddleton.