SURVIVAL TACTICS: It isn't easy being a pioneer.

Joan Rivers's "Can We Shop?" -- the first home shopping program to be syndicated for broadcast television -- has been the subject of rumors that put the future of the show, which has one of the lowest ratings in TV, in jeopardy.

A spokeswoman for Tribune Entertainment, the show's syndicator, denied the show will be canceled, but added that no decision had been made beyond June 16, when its current 13-week production schedule is slated to end.

Producers hoped that sales revenue would compensate for ratings, since shopping programs have difficulty attracting an audience on broadcast TV. For some stations it has, but for others, sales have been disappointing.

"We've done fairly well with it in Miami," said Ed Wasilik, program director of WBSF-TV. "We're one of their top-performing markets."

KTVU-TV in San Francisco moved the program from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.

"After watching the show and its rating performance, late night seems to be the best environment for people to order products," said Kevin O'Brien, KTVU's general manager. "We're still intrigued by the concept. We like being revenue partners. It was just in the wrong time period."

KITN-TV in Minneapolis moved the show from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

"Technically they've done a good job," said Rip Riordon, KITN's general manager.

Mike Dunlop, general manager of KTXH-TV in Houston, said, "We've been very disappointed with it thus far. We're going to give it another month and then decide whether to move it to another time slot or drop it.

"We felt this was a new revenue stream and we wanted to experiment with it," Dunlop said. "The syndicator came here with projections of what home shopping has done in the marketplace. The show's revenues fell far short."

The Tribune spokeswoman said there have been production changes. All programs now have themes, such as gifts for Mother's Day. In addition, there has been an effort to book guests more interesting to the general public, like Rita Rudner and Carrie Fisher. (Both had books to sell.)

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