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A hiatus of a television series is a break of at least several weeks in the normal schedule of broadcast programming. It can occur during a season of a television program, or can be between television seasons (usually starting in June and ending in August when shooting starts for the next season) which is called a mid-season break.
Television stations often implement a hiatus for their programs to split up a season so it will run longer until the next season. Some programs also go on hiatus so that their television networks can reserve episodes for airing during ratings sweeps, wherein networks compute their television advertising fees based on their programs' ratings during that period. Programs "return from hiatus" in time for the sweeps period so as to generate high ratings, and as such usually include special content in programming such as guest stars, controversial and unexpected plots or topics, extended episodes, and finales.
A network may put a show on hiatus before canceling it. This may be to evaluate the series' quality, warn the television producers in an effort to push them to produce a more profitable product, fill its timeslot with another program to compare ratings, or warn viewers that the show is not pulling its weight in ratings to see how the show performs in reruns before deciding whether or not it deserves another season.
A series may be put on hiatus for other reasons. The 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike forced several television series (including Pushing Daisies, Eli Stone, Chuck, The Big Bang Theory, and Heroes) to go into hiatus and deferred the scheduled returns of other series such as 24 for an extended period. A show may go on hiatus in reaction to its content: Pokémon anime was put on hiatus in Japan from December 17, 1997 until April 16, 1998 after the airing of an episode which caused 685 viewers to have seizures. A show may also be put on hiatus due to personal issues with a cast member, or an illness or death, such as the death of 8 Simple Rules actor John Ritter, The Royal Family being retooled after the death of Redd Foxx, and Sonny with a Chance actress Demi Lovato entering rehabilitation.