Canada's Private Broadcasters Spending Big on U.S. TV Shows: Report

Etan Vlessing
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TORONTO – Despite a slight drop last year in dollars spent on U.S. TV shows, Canadian private broadcasters are still feeding their addiction to popular American series at the expense of local dramas and sitcoms.

The CRTC on Thursday released financial data on Canada's private broadcasters that indicated they dropped a combined $726 million on foreign, mostly U.S., programming in 2012, down from $729 million in expenditures a year earlier.

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The amount spent on Canadian broadcast rights to The Big Bang Theory, American Idol and Survivor was down from pre-recession spending on American fare, which reached a record $846.3 million in 2009, according to data from the country's TV regulator.

Still, private Canadian networks continue to spend more coin on U.S. series rights than they do on local programming fare.

The CRTC reported expenditures by private domestic broadcasters on Canadian programming rose from $562.9 million in 2011 to $661.8 million last year, with the bulk of that money going to news coverage.

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2012 domestic programming expenditures included coverage of the 2012 London Summer Olympics.

Private broadcasters in 2012 spent $58.9 million on homegrown dramas like Rookie Blue and Saving Hope, virtually unchanged from a year-earlier $58.3 million invested in local drama series.