Why did CBC end the Halifax legal drama Diggstown? | Arts + Culture | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST
Diggstown was a critic's and award's darling. Here, series lead Vinessa Antoine is smiling between takes.
Diggstown was a critic's and award's darling. Here, series lead Vinessa Antoine is smiling between takes.

Why did CBC end the Halifax legal drama Diggstown?

The four key takeaways from show runner Floyd Kane’s bombshell interview with Variety magazine.

Earlier this month, the North Preston-set CBC series Diggstown quietly ended a four-season run.



Floyd Kane’s story of a hotshot lawyer who returns home to Nova Scotia after the tragic death of her aunt causes her to shift her priorities was a critical slam dunk (disclosure: I am one of said critics) that netted five Canadian Screen Award nominations. It was also a glass-ceiling-smasher, with series lead Vinessa Antoine becoming the first Black Canadian woman to lead a prime-time drama on network television. 


So, when CBC announced a shortened fourth season (six episodes total) was all, folks, for Diggstown it felt like a surprise for fans of the series. Kane, however, was not among those left slack-jawed at the news. In a recent interview with Variety magazine, Kane candidly lays bare the reasons why Diggstown didn’t find the breakout success of other CBC series like Kim’s Convenience or Schitt’s Creek. (Though Kane makes a note several times to say how accommodating and supportive those he worked with at CBC were.)


Here’s a recap of where things went wrong, as per Kane’s interview with Variety.

Canada doesn’t track viewer demographics, making it impossible to have sophisticated analysis of how a series is faring:


“First of all, there’s a huge issue with respect to how ratings are accounted for or how television viewing is measured in Canada. It feels extremely unsophisticated. When you look to the south and you see what Nielsen does, Nielsen has reports on every single type of viewer. They know the top 10 shows Indigenous people are watching, that Black people are watching, that Latino people are watching, that white people are watching. It’s broken down. Numeris doesn’t do that. And frankly, I don’t even know the number of BIPOC families that Numeris has and if it matches the Canadian population. No one does. Why is that a secret, when all four Canadian broadcasters (Bell Media, Rogers Media, Corus Entertainment and CBC) have a seat on the Numeris board?” Kane tells Variety.

“In order to have a conversation about ratings and who’s watching what, you have to know what ingredients go into the stew. And we don’t know that. So to have any kind of discussion about ratings, especially when it comes to shows with Black leads or BIPOC leads, we just can’t have a sophisticated conversation about it. For whatever reason, the whole process is shrouded in secrecy.”

Aside from not knowing if a show is a hit in a certain sub-market, the lack of demographic numbers could, Kane thinks, affect how programming decisions are made:

“I’m sure you’ve heard that whole thing about how Canadian network programmers program for Susie in Saskatchewan," Kane tells Variety. "If I’m being honest, I don’t think Susie is a woman of colour. I don’t know if, at the end of the day, the folks who are responsible for what happens within that measurement company care to have that data.”


"I’m sure you’ve heard that whole thing about how Canadian network programmers program for Susie in Saskatchewan. If I’m being honest, I don’t think Susie is a woman of colour."

tweet this

Diggstown was produced on a shoestring budget, even compared to other Canadian dramas:

“In Season 1 we were making the show for less than $2 million per episode. The typical hour long drama in Canada is probably closer to $2.5 or $3 million. If you compare that with the U.S., which is about $7 million on the low end…we’re the kind of producers who try to figure it out because we want to make a show," Kane says in the Variety piece. 

Since Canada has such tight budgets, international success is a key part of making a series viable, Kane says:

“In Canada, it is extremely hard to finance a show — I’ll say it for my purposes — with a Black female lead. The reality is, the broadcasters have limited resources. They can’t fully finance everything. You have to go to the international marketplace. And if the Americans don’t want it, then you’re kind of screwed. Because internationally, when you look at the content, the inclusive content, the Black content that is being produced internationally, it’s about the lives of Black Londoners in London [or] Black Italians or immigrants in Italy. It’s not about Black North Americans.

"We’d like to believe that, around the world, the industry is opening their arms for Black content made in North America. And it’s simply not true."

tweet this

We’d like to believe that, around the world, the industry is opening their arms for Black content made in North America. And it’s simply not true. We can pull a bunch of examples from U.S. studios. But we also know the way that the U.S. studios have always worked in terms of selling their shows internationally, [where they sell shows packaged together]. There’s a sense in the industry that things have changed, because of what happened with George Floyd, with him being murdered. And I don’t think that’s actually true.”


About The Author

Morgan Mullin

Morgan is the Arts & Entertainment Editor at The Coast, where she writes about everything from what to see and do around Halifax to profiles of the city’s creative class to larger cultural pieces. She’s been with The Coast since 2016.

Support The Coast

At a time when the city needs local coverage more than ever, we’re asking for your help to support independent journalism. We are committed as always to providing free access to readers, particularly as we confront the impact of COVID-19 in Halifax and beyond.

Read more about the work we do here, or consider making a donation. Thank you for your support!

Comments (0)

Add a comment

Add a Comment

Recent Comments