CBC’s ‘Marketplace’ marks 50 years

CBC News consumer affairs program, MARKETPLACE, will mark the show’s 50th season when it debuts on Friday, Oct. 7.

MARKETPLACE co-host David Common and former host of 16 years, Erica Johnson, will look back on the impact of the show’s investigations, some of the promises it’s tested, and the policies that its investigative journalism changed in a one-hour special set to air on CBC TV and CBC Gem.

“The tips and tricks have changed over the years, but the reason Marketplace journalists keep on pushing for answers has never wavered; this show makes real change in the everyday lives of Canadians,” said Susan Marjetti, General Manager of News, Current Affairs & Local, CBC, in a release. “In 50 years the show has produced more than 1,000 stories that all have one thing in common: having the consumer’s back. This consistent Marketplace promise helps viewers across the country spend less, invest better, and make really smart decisions about their health and safety.” 

Original Marketplace hosts George Finstead and Joan Watson with show theme composer, Stompin’ Tom Connors. (CBC Archive)

MARKETPLACE first premiered on Oct. 5, 1972 with Joan Watson and co-host George Finstad at the helm of the show. The first episode explored the rising cost of food in Canada. Among those who’ve worked on the show since then include Harry Brown, Bill Paul, Christine Johnson, Norma Kent, Jacquie Perrin, Jim Nunn, Wendy Mesley, and Tom Harrington.

Stompin’ Tom Connors wrote the show’s original theme song, The Consumer, an ode to Canadian frugality. To mark the show’s anniversary, CBC has commissioned a new theme from Halifax-based hip hop artist, Aquakultre, who will perform as part of the Celebrating Marketplace’s 50th Season broadcast.

Bill Paul with a week’s worth of viewer mail in 1983 (CBC Archives)

At its peak, Marketplace regularly attracted a weekly audience comparable to Hockey Night in Canada (1.7 million viewers), according to The Canadian Encyclopedia.

In the 50th anniversary special, past and present hosts will share their thoughts on past investigations and reflect on some harried instances for its reporters from the vault, including some dicey moments for Common while undercover in India investigating call centre scammers. Among the show’s investigative triumphs over the years were accomplishing a ban on urea formaldehyde foam insulation and tighter regulations to make children’s sleepwear less flammable.

This season, hosts Asha Tomlinson, David Common and Charlsie Agro, along with guest hosts Rosa Marchitelli and Travis Dhanraj, investigate hospital wait times and mortgage fraud, tackle making sense of food labels on packaged goods being marketed as healthy choices, and go undercover in Mexico to expose questionable cancer cures.


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