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ABC pulls plug on ‘The One’
TORONTO (CP) — The One: Making a Music Star — the American reality show that grabbed headlines last month for bumping CBC’s The National from its usual time-slot — has been cancelled less than two weeks after its debut.
U.S. broadcaster ABC announced the decision in a note posted Friday on its website: “There are no plans for additional episodes. Thanks to all who participated in and supported The One.”
CBC created a ruckus earlier this summer when it announced plans to move The National from its 10 p.m. ET slot on some Tuesdays and Wednesdays in order to air The One.
Critics were vicious, arguing that the public broadcaster has a mission to explain Canada to Canadians — not to import reality TV shows from the United States.
CBC, in turn, said it was simply trying to lay the groundwork for a Canadian version of The One, which followed a format similar to Canadian Idol and Rock Star: Supernova.
But the show floundered from the get-go, and critics were quick Friday to seize on its cancellation as proof of poor decision-making at CBC.
“The senior leadership at the CBC has to have egg on its face. They made this extraordinary and, I would say, indefensible decision,” said Ian Morrison of Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.
“Why would Canadian taxpayers subsidize a public television network in order to see it pre-empt their national news?”
Arthur Lewis, executive director of the advocacy group Our Public Airwaves, said the cancellation “emphasizes what an incredibly stupid decision it was for CBC to import an American reality show in the first place.”
“I’m willing to bet CBC was praying for ABC to cancel it and get them off the hook,” he added.
For her part, Kirstine Layfield, CBC-TV’s executive director of network programming, called ABC’s decision “disappointing.”
“But it’s understandable,” she said. “ABC is in a very tough marketplace. It’s having a very tough summer … They don’t have the luxury of waiting around for a show to grow over time.”
She said the public broadcaster may still go ahead with a Canadian edition of The One in the fall.
“It’s too early to tell. We’re not under any pressure to make immediate decisions.”
Hosted by CBC-TV personality George Stroumboulopoulos, The One’s debut last week grabbed the attention of a mere 236,000 Canadians.
And on Tuesday this week, according to Nielsen Media Research, just 150,000 Canadians tuned in to the singing contest, despite the marketing fanfare and high hopes at CBC.
By contrast, BBM says Rock Star: Supernova pulled in 1.2 million Canadian viewers Tuesday night in the same 9-10 p.m. ET slot on Global.
CTV’s Canadian Idol finished the night with 1.65 million viewers in the 8-8:30 p.m. ET slot, said Nielsen.
The One’s numbers south of the border were also abysmal. An article in the trade magazine Media Life reported that the show was the lowest-rated new summer reality series this season.
Reached in Los Angeles on Friday, Stroumboulopoulos was philosophical about the show’s demise, blaming it on “market saturation.”
“I suspect that (TV viewers) had already invested themselves in Canada in Idol,” he said, adding he had no regrets about doing the show.
He also defended CBC’s decision to air it.
“It was the exact right decision … Canadians have demonstrated an awesome appetite for programs from all over the world.”
The Canadian version of The One is still “in early development,” said Layfield, adding that the CBC has learned from the U.S. show and will make a decision on its future in the next few weeks.
For his part, Stroumboulopoulos reiterated that he will not be hosting a Canadian version of The One because of his commitment to his own CBC current affairs program, The Hour.