Canadians banned from Jeopardy game show, angst ensues

TORONTO (Reuters) - A decision by the U.S. television show “Jeopardy!” to exclude Canadians from competing on the game show has sparked dismay, a lot of jokes framed in the form of a question, and pointed questions for its Canadian host, Alex Trebek.

Trebek, the show’s longtime host, confirmed the change in rules after Canadian media noticed a change in eligibility on the show’s online registration page.

“It is true that for the most recent Jeopardy! contestant tryouts, Canadians were precluded from taking the online test, since the show must now comply with new rules set down by the Canadian government,” Trebek said in an email sent by Jeopardy’s public relations department on Monday.

Jeopardy is produced by Sony Pictures Television, a unit of conglomerate Sony Corp.

The show did not specify what Canadian law it was concerned about breaking. While Canada passed anti-spam legislation in 2014 and a new digital privacy law in 2015, it was unclear whether either would prevent a Canadian from using “Jeopardy!“‘s online system for competing on the show.

A spokeswoman for Canada’s Privacy Commissioner said their office had not been involved in the matter and it was “not at all clear what legal requirements are being referred to.”

The move to ban Canadians from the show prompted some gnashing of teeth as well as conspiracy theories surrounding the past success of several Canadian contestants.

“Could it be we’re just too smart for Americans?” wondered a columnist in the Ottawa Citizen newspaper.

A story on Canadian Broadcasting Corp quipped that Trebek may be the last Canadian standing on the quiz show, while the Globe and Mail national newspaper asked, in “Jeopardy” question form: “What is out of luck?”

However, Trebek noted that at least seven Canadians have appeared on the show so far this season, including one who will appear on Monday’s show, and those who have already gone through the eligibility process remain in the contestant pool for 18 months, meaning the ban will have a delayed effect.

“We look forward to having more try out as soon as we are sure we can comply with all Canadian online privacy laws,” Trebek said.

Reporting by Andrea Hopkins; Editing by Jonathan Oatis