Tag Archives: RDS

CTV/Rogers announce Olympic lineup

The consortium of private broadcasters headed by CTV has announced a huge lineup of play-by-play announcers, news anchors, former Olympians and other analysts who will travel to Vanvouver and Whistler for the 2010 Winter Olympics. It also tells us what networks coverage will appear on.

In English, the team is headed by Olympic veteran Brian Williams, who left CBC in 2006 after CTV won the rights to the 2010 Games. English Games coverage will be carried on CTV’s main network, CTV-owned TSN, Rogers Sportsnet, Rogers-owned OMNI, Rogers-owned OLN (Outdoor Life Network), and ATN, along with Rogers radio stations, CTVOlympics.ca and the Globe and Mail.

There’s also, I’m sorry to say, entertainment (eTalk/Ben Mulroney) and music (MuchMusic) reporting to go along with it. (I’m not quite sure how much music-related coverage there can be of the Olympics, but whatever…)

In French, the team will be headed by Canadiens play-by-play man Pierre Houde and Olympic broadcasting veteran Richard Garneau. French Games coverage will be carried on RDS, RIS Info-Sports, the Aboriginal Peoples’ Television Network and … TQS.

There’s a certain irony in TQS being part of the deal. Its participation predates its bankruptcy and change in ownership, going back to when it was part-owned by CTVglobemedia. At the time (2005), TQS was supposed to be the primary broadcaster of French Olympic coverage. Now it seems clear that, even if TQS is going to have original Olympic programming and priority for the big-ticket events like hockey, the main network behind coverage in French is RDS.

TQS also has another problem: Unlike Radio-Canada (and to a lesser extent TVA), it doesn’t broadcast outside Quebec. So francophones outside Quebec who don’t get TQS or RDS on cable or satellite (let’s for the moment assume this is a nontrivial figure) are out of luck. On the plus side though, apparently a deal has been worked out to give cable users outside Quebec free access to RDS and TQS during the Games.

Meanwhile, advertisers are noting the highly inflated rate card CTV is using to make up for the $150 million it spent to secure rights to the 2010 and 2012 Games.

Broadcasting regulation nerdgasm

The CRTC got real busy last week making some big announcements/decisions/suggestions about television broadcasting regulations. Many of them are boring, minor or technical, but here are a few that aren’t:

Over-the-air carriage fees

The big one for broadcasting companies like Canwest/Global, CTV, TQS and Quebecor is the decision to reject the suggestion that “broadcast distribution units” (i.e. cable and satellite companies) should be required to pay fees to TV broadcasters who broadcast over the air freely.

This idea came out of the whole TQS saga, when the network’s owners decided that it needed the ability to somehow blackmail cable companies into giving them money. Since cable specialty channels get per-subscriber fees in exchange for their content, shouldn’t broadcast networks – whose budgets are supposedly higher because they need to produce local news – get money too?

The flip side of the coin is that these network broadcasters are broadcasting freely, using public airwaves. Cable and satellite companies are required by law to carry local broadcast channels on their basic packages. Subscribers don’t get any added value from getting over-the-air stations on cable (except, perhaps, not having to deal with rabbit ears), so why should they have to pay for them?

The CRTC’s decision was tough (emphasis mine):

CTVgm and Canwest proposed that any FFC only be made available if broadcasters meet monthly local programming requirements. However, they did not commit that the FFC, or any portion of it, would result in incremental spending on Canadian programming.

While OTA broadcasters have shown a recent decline in profitability, they, as other enterprises, might first look to their own business plans before making a request for increased revenue from the Commission. In the Proceeding, no business plans suggesting new sources of revenue were provided to the Commission. Neither the rationale for strategic initiatives by OTA broadcasters, such as recent major acquisitions, nor the basis for financing those initiatives or the impact of those initiatives on profitability were explained to the Commission at the public hearing.

The CRTC did cave on one point though: It said that so-called “distant signals” (e.g. CTV Vancouver for us Montrealers) should be able to “negotiate” carriage, in order to offset the trouble that this time-shifting business has caused. What that effectively means is that broadcasters can set rates for out-of-market broadcast stations and simply not allow their channels to be carried on other regions’ cable networks unless they pay their fees.

Broadcasters are happy with the parts of the decision that give them money, and unhappy with the ones that don’t. They’re for less regulation in the broadcasting industry, but they want corporate socialism for the “ailing” over-the-air broadcasting sector.

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Hockey Night is dead. Long live RDS

So there you go. CBC’s Hockey Anthem Challenge winner, out of almost 15,000 entries submitted, is Colin Oberst’s Canadian Gold. The one with the bagpipes. Hockey Night in Canada made a big thing about it, with loud congratulations from Don Cherry. And Oberst takes home a $100,000 cheque.

UPDATE: CBC has posted the announcement, new theme and a season intro montage in Quicktime format.

With the new theme comes new intro graphics as well. This season, rather than go the classic route of showing hits, goals and saves, CBC has gotten its computer graphics department on overdrive, recreating classic moves so they could look at them from impossible angles (even simulating Bobby Orr’s Stanley Cup-winning goal, which created the best sports photo of all time). Unfortunately, this kind of computer animation still has a long way to go, and it just ends up looking like they’re showing scenes from EA’s NHL 09 video game.

Meanwhile, on RDS, the original Hockey Theme reigns. They paid a lot more for it, and their re-recording doesn’t sound as good as the most recent CBC version, but it still sounds better. It’s still the one with that special place in our hearts.

Real Canadiens fans have been watching RDS for years now. Even Leafs fans have moved to TSN or Rogers SportsNet. Many people I know turn to CBC to watch the opening theme and switch to RDS for the play-by-play.

Now, with the hockey theme on RDS, does Hockey Night in Canada have any purpose anymore?

Pat’s back; the new RDS; Hockey special section

Gazette Habs beat writer Pat Hickey, who disappeared for a month to get his knee replaced, is back in time for the beginning of the regular season (this is how hardcore he is – he schedules major surgery around the Canadiens’ playing schedule). His first Standing Pat column back on the beat explains his recovery process and mentions the sympathy he now feels for athletes who have to keep themselves in shape.

Pat also participates in the first episode of the Habs Inside/Out PuckCast, which returns for a third season.

Meanwhile on another page, Stephanie Myles (who with Dave Stubbs has been covering the Canadiens in Hickey’s absence) has a feature on the RDS guys, Pierre Houde and Benoit Brunet, the latter replacing Yvon Pedneault as the play-by-play analyst. Near the end it goes into Pedneault’s dismissal:

But both Houde and Brunet said they were surprised Pedneault got the axe.

“I didn’t know it was in RDS’s plans,” Houde said. “That’s what’s happy and sad about our line of work, we’re all freelance workers who work together. And as Benoît has said, it’s like a hockey team. Your linemate is traded, or retires, or he becomes a free agent. You stay and work with someone new.”

Given the superhuman ratings during last year’s playoff run – close to 3 million viewers – Brunet also didn’t see the decision on Pedneault coming.

“I wasn’t expecting it,” he said. “But the phone rang. I always said I’ll wait, and when they give me the sign I’ll be there. It happened this year. I was surprised.”

The article also goes in depth about technical and programming changes for the new season.

Myles Someone who may or may not be Myles, what with this byline strikyness, also writes a sidebar about anglo Canadiens fans watching French broadcasts (and vice versa).

Finally, today is the first appearance of The Gazette’s new roughly-monthly Hockey Inside/Out special section, which includes in-depth coverage of the advertising goldmine very popular Canadiens. Eight of them will be produced over the coming centennial season.

The special section includes an article from Mike Boone on how the Habs Inside/Out site was born (it was an idea of Editor-in-Chief Andrew Phillips), as well as the usual season-preview fare.

CTV’s new Hockey Theme

CTV has released its re-recording (with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra) of the Hockey Theme (i.e. the ex-Hockey Night in Canada theme), which will be used on RDS and TSN hockey telecasts starting Oct. 10 and Oct. 14, respectively.

Here it is (MP3). TSN also has a story with video about the new theme.

Perhaps I should wait until it actually goes on air, or maybe it’s just my computer, but it sounds like elevator music compared to the rough-and-tumble CBC version.

The press release, which says it “revisits the original 1968 version” also gives plenty of praise for how awesome they think it is:

We’ve taken great pride in blending the heritage of the song with the best digital technology available, creating a stunning rendition sure to resonate with hockey fans across the country.

Colour me unimpressed.

RDS relives when we used to be good


As part of its Grande semaine de hockey, RDS is replaying Game 5 of the 1993 Stanley Cup Final. A game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Los Angeles Kings (complete with Wayne Gretzky). It follows a live game today where we beat the Kings 5-2.

The game footage, which doesn’t have an on-screen clock (most of the time) or scorebox or all the other stuff we take for granted nowadays, is “enhanced” with some Pop-up Video-style trivia tidbits and jokes.

I won’t spoil how it ends, but somehow I think it’ll be a happy day.

The game will be followed by a one-hour documentary special looking back at the last time the Habs went all the way, 15 years ago.

UPDATE: Show’s over. For those who missed it, this is what happened.

RDS goes black, will it go back?

In one of those moments that marketing geeks wet their pants over, RDS apparently agreed in December to cut out the visual feed for 10 seconds of its Sports 30 recap of a Canadiens game, replacing it with an ad for the Quebec Foundation for the Blind which was mostly a black screen. The audio feed was left as is.

I can find no news coverage of this feat, nor anything from RDS, so I’ll just have to take the word of the marketing agency that this actually happened.

I suppose with all the product placement, pop-up ads and other junk that increasingly attacks our television viewing experience, something like this is inevitable. Let’s just hope this idea isn’t expanded to commercial advertising.

(via iPub)

RDS now in HD


RDS’s HD channel launched today with the first regular-season game of the Canadiens (we won, by the way). The network plans over 1,000 hours of HD programming in the first year (an average of 3 hours a day for us idiots who can’t do basic math), including full HD coverage of the entire Habs season and playoffs.

The channel is available on:

  • Videotron Illico HD channel 633
  • Bell ExpressVu channel 863
  • Cogeco cable channel 540 (only in Quebec)
  • StarChoice channel 266