Marketplace, CBC's 30-minute flagship consumer advocacy program, went on air in October 1972. The staff investigates product claims, frauds, misleading advertising and other consumer issues. Entertaining and informative, initially with a popular theme song ("The Consumer," composed and sung by Stompin' Tom Connors), the original on-air presenters were journalist George Finstad (1972-77) and consumer advocate Joan Watson (1972-83). Since their departure, hosts, always in pairs, have included Harry Brown, Bill Paul, Christine Johnson, Norma Kent, Jacquie Perrin, Jim Nunn and Wendy Mesley. The current hosts are Tom Harrington and Erica Johnson.
At its peak, Marketplace regularly attracted a weekly audience of 1.7 million viewers, comparable to Hockey Night in Canada. Over the years it has evolved from airing complaints to more mini-documentaries on items of consumer interest. In a major coup in the late 1970s, the show did several groundbreaking reports on the dangers of urea formaldehyde foam insulation, which eventually led to a 1980 ban on its use in Canada.
The show has won more than 30 Gemini Awards including "best information series" in 1998 and "best news information series" in 2000-03, 2005-08 and 2010.