Sunday, December 24, 2006

Did the former head of TSN get the CFL the best deal?

At present, the CFL is broadcast on both TSN and CBC but the Grey Cup Final is shown on CBC. The Grey Cup is billed as a Canadian national institution (the foray into the US notwithstanding) and gets national network coverage as the FA Cup Final does in the UK. Under a new deal, TSN links up with fellow BellGlobemedia stablemate CTV to provide coverage. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it is odd that an outgoing Commissioner would negotiate it and the Globe infers that Argonauts executive and former TSN president Keith Pelley was the one doing the talking.

The result was a sole-source bid with the CBC who had planned a bid with Global being shut out. Obviously Keith Pelley's broadcasting experience was a big deal when he joined the Argonauts staff given the dependence on TV revenue by professional sports but one has to wonder whether he really did influence the choice of going sole-source and if this did not form something of a conflict.

The CBC's lack of a sports network seems to be dooming it in the face of the CTV/TSN combo which allows the latter to cater for both regular season programming on TSN but move the more "national events" to CTV which reaches a more national audience. CBC should be concerned that they have now lost curling, the Olympics and Canadian football to TSN. However the competition to the BellGlobemedia monolith need not necessarily be the CBC - should CanWest-Global be opening its wallet for the Score to become the sports alternative? Will CTV-TSN forgo a Hockey Night bid to avoid exposing their increasing monopoly of major Canadian competitions?
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