CBC-TV's decision to displace its flagship news program this summer to make way for a U.S. reality show is drawing criticism from public broadcasting advocates.
On Tuesday nights, from July 18 until September 5, The National will air early on the East Coast and be delayed an hour in Ontario and Quebec so that CBC-TV can simulcast ABC's new reality show The One: Making a Music Star. From Manitoba westward, The National will not be affected.
Similar to the hit Pop Idol franchise, The One will follow young musicians competing for the chance at a recording contract, under the tutelage of industry experts and vocal coaches. The CBC has also planned to launch a Canadian version in late 2006 or early 2007.
The move is one of several new reality initiatives the public broadcaster is taking as it tests out the popular TV genre.
"I think that the reality, if I can use the term, of the CBC these days, is that we're prepared to try new things to develop successful programming," CBC spokesperson Jeff Keay told CBC News.
The National, hosted by anchor Peter Mansbridge, has been bumped before: most recently during the Stanley Cup playoffs but also during the Olympics.
However, this is the first time that the evening news program is being shifted around for an American-made show — a decision questioned by the NDP's federal heritage critic, Charlie Angus.
To dump what he calls the premier news program in Canada "for titillation television from the U.S. because it's the latest reality TV craze, to me is an indication that CBC management [does] not have a vision for broadcast in Canada," Angus said.
The watchdog group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting has also criticized the move as "shocking and surprising."
"We think this is kind of a low day for the CBC," group spokesperson Ian Morrison told the Canadian Press.
"News doesn't stop just because it's July. It strikes me as an attempt to build audience as opposed to serve the public."