Jason DeCrow/AP Photo
THOSE WHO DO NOT KNOW HISTORY ARE DOOMED TO REPEATS: When syndicated re-runs of CSI: NY began running up to three times a day on History Television, it was obvious that corporate parent Alliance Atlantis was killing two birds with one stone - maximizing their assets and making up for a shortfall in programming by recycling one of the their most lucrative assets, in spite of its tangential relevance to the mandate of History Television.
According to a story in the New York Times business section yesterday, Alliance Atlantis has been called on the move by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission after a complaint by Maureen Parker, executive director of the Writers Guild of Canada. Normally these sorts of bureaucratic tempests don’t merit much more than a shrug and a roll of the eyes, but for once the CRTC is exercising its oversight in a matter that’s feels appropriate, even critical.
“CSI is on every other channel all the time,” Parker told the Times. “It’s conventional TV fare. History is not the place for it. To me, it is just a blatant abuse of their terms of license.”
Unfortunately, Alliance Atlantis doesn’t own a cable channel like Mystery (jointly owned by CanWest and TVA) or CourtTV Canada (a CHUM property), which would be a natural fit for reruns of the CSI franchises; History probably seemed like a near-as-dammit fit when the call came out to maximize revenues, and so it ended up on History’s schedule.
It’s obviously too late to apologize, and so Alliance issued an explanation that CSI:NY is appropriate for History because it’s “set in a city that became synonymous with one of history’s most significant and notorious events, 9/11.” Taken to its logical extreme, that would make everything from Sex And The City to Friends to The King Of Queens appropriate to History Television’s programming. Given the likelihood that significant historical events have occurred in almost every major metropolis, History could see itself hosting reruns of everything from the Bob Newhart Show to Entourage to Miami Vice.
The CRTC has responded in a letter to the broadcaster that “the mere fact that the drama is set in a city which was victim to a significant historical event is not sufficient justification for broadcasting the program on a service that is mandated to be devoted to history programs,” and Alliance has stated that it’s “in the process of determining next steps.” In the meantime, please help us celebrate a week devoted to the history of the space program with some very special reruns of I Dream Of Jeannie.