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Hockey Night in Canada to continue on CBC

by Dan Rosen

TORONTO -- Hockey Night in Canada will continue its 61-year run on CBC as part of the landmark agreement for Canadian national broadcast and multimedia rights jointly announced by the National Hockey League and Rogers Communications on Tuesday.

CBC will also air the Stanley Cup Final as part of a four-year sub-licensing agreement with Rogers.

However, CBC will no longer control production, editorial content or on-air talent associated with Hockey Night in Canada telecasts. CBC will also not receive any of the revenue generated from HNIC broadcasts, but will no longer pay production costs either. Revenue generated by HNIC broadcasts will go to Rogers.

"We all grew up with certain institutions and brands that come to mind," said Nadir Mohamed, Rogers Communications president and chief executive officer. "We reached out and worked with the CBC to ensure Canadians will get access to Hockey Night in Canada the way they have before. I think that's great. It's great for, I believe, the CBC. It's great for all of us as Canadians."

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the League was fully supportive of the decision by Rogers to keep Hockey Night in Canada on CBC.

"We all recognize the importance, significance and value of Hockey Night in Canada on the CBC," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said.

CBC was bidding for a portion of the national broadcast and multimedia rights that ultimately went to Rogers. Now CBC hopes to benefit by having the ability to promote its original programming during the Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts.

"The NHL set very high standards for a very high financial expectation for these negotiations and while we thought we brought something very special to broadcasting, CBC was not in a position to spend tax payers' money in this game of high stakes," CBC president Hubert Lacroix said. "Increasingly in this modern area, CBC needs to seek, protect and promote its public-service mandate through just this kind of partnership where we can put our public broadcasting assets to work in a smart, fiscally responsible way."

The future of iconic Canadian broadcaster Don Cherry is uncertain. Cherry's Coach's Corner segment has long been a staple of CBC's Hockey Night in Canada coverage.

Keith Pelley, president of Rogers Media, indicated Cherry's role will be part of an evaluation process between Rogers, the NHL and CBC that will take place in the coming months and years.

"Don Cherry is a great talent and a good friend, and obviously he's somebody we take very seriously as part of the game," Commissioner Bettman said. "Ultimately it's something we'll discuss."

In addition, Rogers is sub-licensing all Canadian French-language multi-media broadcast rights to TVA, which will now air a minimum of 22 Montreal Canadiens games per season.

"At [TVA] we are passionate about hockey and our dream was to become the official French-language broadcaster of the NHL in Canada," said Robert Depatie, President and CEO of Quebecor and Quebecor Media. "When we launched TVA Sports a little over two years ago we were determined to put out high-quality sports programming in a modern and distinctive format that could rival the best the industry had to offer. Today, these efforts have borne fruit."


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