The Canadian Bar Association
Media & Entertainment, Privacy

Canadians no longer allowed to apply to be on Jeopardy!

News that Canadian residents will no longer be able to apply to appear on Jeopardy! due to international privacy law concerns is likely just a way for the popular TV quiz show to avoid the burden of investigating and complying with Canadian law, Toronto business and entertainment lawyer Bill Northcote tells AdvocateDaily.com.

Global News reports the quiz show hosted by Canuck Alex Trebek has long accepted Canadian contestants but as of this year, Canadians are shut out from applying for the time being. In a statement, the show’s producers stated:

“As international laws governing how information is shared over the internet are ever-changing and complex, we are currently investigating how we can accept registrations from potential Canadian contestants.”

This vague reasoning is probably because the show doesn’t want to go to the effort of finding out what it needs to do to comply with Canadian law, says Northcote, partner with Shibley Righton LLP.

“It’s probably easier to just exclude Canadians,” he says. “I took a look at a couple of websites for other game shows, like Wheel of Fortune, and most state that you have to be a United States resident to apply. Jeopardy! has long accepted Canadians and was one of the rare shows to do so.”

Trebek, in a statement to the Ottawa Citizen, pointed at Canadian privacy laws as the culprit behind the ban.

“We have had many Canadians as contestants throughout the history of the show, and we hope that will continue, because Canadians make great game show contestants. We look forward to having more try out as soon as we are sure we can comply with all Canadian online privacy laws,” Trebek says.

Northcote says the reasoning given by the show to exclude Canadian residents doesn’t point to any specific legal provision. He says if it’s due to Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation, they could draw up the right forms of consent.

“You can consent to getting email and you could consent to the use of your name and likeness and all of that. I haven’t seen it but I'm sure there's a very lengthy release form that allows the show to put you on TV if you get to that stage.”

“At the end of the day, it is probably too much work for them. Frankly, the show’s major market is the United States so I suspect there's really not much interest or need in having Canadians participating. I don’t think this change will affect one iota of how many people tune in and how much advertising revenues are generated," Northcote says.

"I know some Canadians feel strongly about it, and I suppose they could all boycott Jeopardy!, but it's not likely to happen,” he adds.

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