ION's New Programming Strategy: Import Shows

After obtaining rights to well-known syndicated dramas, the Ion network is trying a new programming strategy as it looks to upgrade its lineup: repurpose shows from beyond the border. The network has acquired rights to Canada's "The Border," as well as another hour-long drama from up north.

The series are scheduled to debut later this year. The acquisitions follow word that a four-hour U.K. mini-series--"The Color of Magic," based on two books--is coming to the network next month.

Ion has also signaled it may develop a third programming pipeline, creating its own content. When naming Leslie Glenn Chesloff as its new programming chief last week, the network said she will work in that arena. The executive comes from Lifetime.

"The Border" focuses on Canadian immigration officials and their involvement with U.S. Home Security to guard what was once described as "the safest border in the world." The similarly conceived drama "The Guard," about the Canadian Coast Guard, is also coming to Ion.



Ion airs former ABC show "Boston Legal" as its only show in prime time Tuesdays and Wednesdays and two episodes each of "ER" and "NCIS" on Fridays.

Ion hopes that its imports will succeed as series with the same success as "Ugly Betty" and "The Office."

Both "The Border" and "The Guard" have had success outside their Canadian home base via syndication; they are produced by Fireworks International and Lionsgate, respectively.

ION also has the rights to stream and distribute the shows on the Web and will work with cable operators to receive payment for offering them via VOD.

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