By  on June 16, 1994

NEW YORK -- Joan Rivers's "Can We Shop?" -- the first syndicated shopping program on broadcast television to achieve a measure of success -- was canceled on Wednesday.

Production will conclude on June 16, according to QRT Enterprises, a production partnership formed by QVC Inc., Regal Communications and Tribune Entertainment. Shows will air through July 15.

When "Can We Shop?" was launched in January, it was greeted by the TV industry with a mixture of anticipation and apprehension.

Past efforts at transactional programming -- which marries selling with entertainment -- had not advanced beyond the test phase. Examples include NBC's "Mall of America" and ABC's "Nitecap."

The challenge, according to industry experts, is striking the right balance between entertainment and selling, which some see as an inherent conflict. Establishing an audience for transactional shows on broadcast TV is difficult, since most viewers look to cable for shopping programs.

But many thought that Joan Rivers could pull it off.

The show hired executives from Bloomingdale's as merchandisers and sold products from Josie Natori and Oleg Cassini, among others.

In the end, ratings killed "Can We Shop?" "What happened is stations were concerned about the ratings and how 'Can We Shop?' was impacting other programming that came behind it," said Jim Lutton, vice president of programming of Tribune Entertainment.

Since January, "Can We Shop?" sold about $14 million worth of merchandise to over 300,000 viewers, Lutton said.

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