Monday, June 09, 2008

CTV, CBC, and the "Hockey Night In Canada" Theme: Great Moments In Blowing It

Marketnews editor Christine Persaud did a great blog post last week about the legal wrangling between the CBC, and Dolores Claman, creator and rights holder of the iconic theme song for "Hockey Night In Canada."

MarketnewsGadgetTalk: Copyrights Might Kill Our Hockey Song

The CBC has decided not to renew its contract with the composer of the Hockey Night in Canada theme song. All across Canada, hockey fans are bowing their heads and pumping their fists in anger. To many, it's almost like saying that the country is going to replace its National Anthem. So why the reason behind the decision?Many reports state that the network has simply decided to "move in a new direction".
But others have dug up information about a lawsuit the composer filed against CBC based on the unauthorized use of the tune beyond the scope of the original license agreement. Reportedly, CBC has license to use the song, composed by Dolores Claman in 1968 and used in partnership with the sport since then, in all Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts in Canada. So when the network decided to use it in the UK, and in "various other productions", Claman cried violation.

As if that wasn't trouble enough, the plot thickened when it was announced today that rival network CTV has scooped the rights to use the "Hockey Night In Canada" theme.

CTV buys rights to former 'Hockey Night in Canada' theme song

The saga of CBC's "Hockey Night in Canada" theme song took a surprising turn Monday as rival network CTV announced it has acquired the rights to the iconic tune.
CTV said it will use the song on NHL broadcasts on TSN, RDS and during the broadcaster's coverage of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

It's not every day that you see bungling of this caliber. I would equate CBC's failure to retain the rights to "Hockey Night In Canada" with how Coca Cola allowed Pepsi to clobber them in the 1980's: It should never have happened, but they blinked, and a nimble competitor speed-bagged them. More power to CTV for recognizing a golden opportunity for what it was.

On the bright side, CBC execs might be able to secure the rights to Canada's second-most iconic song about hockey:

Sphere: Related Content


Anonymous said...

Oh my! Negotiations behind the back of the "ever vigilant" CBC executives who were not satisfied with destroying other parts of their realm. What's next: O Canada? Actually the person (or persons) who should really be vilified in all this did not buy the entire rights at the beginning when the song was commissioned. Now that person surely has earned the short-term thinking of the Canadian twentieth (and a speck of the twenty-first) century award.

Matthew said...

She wanted 3 mil for the rights in perpetuity. Can you imagine the headline in the National Post if the publicly funded CBC had spent that kind of taxpayer money to bow to such nationalistic blackmail? Iconic theme song it may be, but any fond memories we have of it are tied to the sport itself. CBC'll be fine without it, and most of the response I've heard has been negative towards CTV for their sanctimonious claims of "saving "The Hockey Theme".