Get your CBC beefs here
I received this from a regular reader last night:
I've postponed writing you about CBC NHL coverage, and have been forced to with present CBC coverage.I wouldn't normally post such a long reader rant, but this one is pretty well thought out and, more importantly, it's timely given all of the kvetching about CBC's broadcast crews we've heard so far.
Does the league care one iota about the calibre of play-by-play (They intervened with Sean Avery's pending TV career - so you think they would).
How can the CBC continue to use these pieces of merde (the huge exception is their incredibly un-CBC snagging of the best in the business - Jim Hughson). The only play-by-play CBC'er that I wouldn't turn off was Chris Cuthbert (and he's not good, simply tolerable), whom, of course they fired.
I'll watch entire games on TSN and Sportsnet that have been decided in the first period, but turn off 1-goal differential CBC games.
Are they waiting for pressure to turn Bob Coal (sic) into a diamond?
What have Calgarians done to deserve Don un-Witty-man AND Andy Murray? Did Hughson choose Montreal (I normally watch their games on Radio-Canada - the French play-by-play know how to call a game) or is the CBC being mercilessly sadistic to Calgarians?
Why can't the NHL address the crap Canadian fans have to listen to?
I've got two major points I want to cover here:
- As with a lot of things at the CBC recently, budgetary concerns often trump all else. Axeing Chris Cuthbert, a broadcaster I believe is the best hockey play-by-play man in the world, was purely a bottom-line decision. (Not to mention the fact it was done in an extremely callous, obtuse fashion.)
The result was what we saw in the first round, where Don Wittman and Mark Lee, serviceable-to-strong broadcasters in their own areas of expertise, were thrown in to suddenly cover the biggest hockey games in nearly two years. (I'd go as far as to say it was an unfair situation to put a guy like Lee, generally known as the network's voice of the CFL, into.)
As always, ratings decided which broadcast teams worked which series, and the Montreal-Carolina games were given the highest priority (as evidenced by the fact Don Cherry and Jim Hughson both were on the case here).
The good news, of course, is that the CBC will be covering fewer series in the second round — as few as two, should the Calgary Flames not win Game 7 tonight — meaning one or two crews will ninja vanish.
- I haven't really addressed this before, but all of this business could really be a prelude to the CBC no longer broadcasting Hockey Night in Canada. It'd be hard to imagine the network giving up what has become such a cash cow, but other Canadian networks — especially TSN — are increasingly ponying up larger dollars for the 'marquee' events.
CBC has already been pushed out of broadcasting the Olympics, as 2008 in Beijing is the last Games under its current deal, and has lost ground in terms of their NHL playoff coverage. Past agreements had always given the CBC first choice of the postseason games it would show to a Canadian audience; now, TSN gets to pick and choose which series it wants through the conference finals — as long as they don't contain Canadian teams.
That's not a problem this year, when two or three Canadian teams have advanced to the second round, but it's not hard to imagine a scenario where all-American matchups dominate the second round. In that case, TSN would have the pick of the group.
In short, CBC's losing ground on what had always been a near-monopolistic relationship with the NHL. To me, that's a sign of things to come.