Just a couple of days ago we learned that CBC's Hockey Night In Canada was having some trouble renegotiating a licensing arrangement for the rights to the show's iconic theme song.
And now Canada's second national anthem belongs to CTV and TSN. Now the famous dunt-da-DUNT-da-dunt will be heading up TSN's Wednesday night hockey double headers as well as games on any other night of the week. Undoubtedly CTV and TSN will use it for the 2010 Olympics. Maybe they'll even use it for traditional international coverage of the world juniors, the worlds and women's games.
They can do whatever they want with it, because they bought it outright.
It seems relations between 80 year old song composer Dolores Claman and the CBC, who only rented the song on a pay-per-use basis for 40 years, became so acrimonious that she decided to ensure the CBC would never have it again.
Much of the souring must have centered around Claman's 2004 $2.5M lawsuit against the CBC, alleging "the public broadcaster has repeatedly used the distinctive theme song in broadcasts not covered under her licence agreement and has refused requests to negotiate additional fees." CBC allegedly had used the song in new formats, such as cell phone ring tones, without paying Claman a cent. The lawsuit is still winding it's way through the Ontario legal system.
CBC put forward a brave face on Monday.
"The two sides were so far apart and there was so much bad blood that we knew a deal would be difficult," said Scott Moore, CBC executive director. "The reality is it takes two sides to do a deal and we tried everything we could to do a deal. We offered arbitration, mediation — we offered to meet their price. On Friday, when it came right down to it, we never got a response from them on our latest offer and find out, in the meantime, they appeared to be negotiating with CTV."They also must have been expecting this, because they already have a $100,000 contest to pick a new theme song already in the works.
Hearing the song on a different show somehow just isn't right. I'm actually quite worried about the beloved Hockey Night In Canada.
With specialty channels like TSN and SportsNet and of course the NHL Network, virtually every hockey game is on TV these days. Saturday night used to be Hockey night. Now you can have hockey night any time you want. And you don't have to watch the Leafs if you don't want to.
Hockey Night In Canada, for me anyways, is about tradition. I loved that theme song, and that's where it belonged. I liked Bob Cole's nasally voice, even if he couldn't remember players names anymore. I like Don Cherry for what he is, but he's 72 and how much longer can he carry the show?
Hockey Night In Canada continues to drop the ball lately. Others are doing hockey broadcasting better. Bottom line - Hockey Night In Canada has lost market share, on-air talent and now it's theme song.
It's time to shape up CBC. Maybe giving Stompin' Tom a phone call would be a good start.
P.S. Only in Canada would a hockey's show theme song be top story on the news in most markets. God I love this country!