People who subscribe to TSN were able to watch Sunday’s Grey Cup game on TV, but Canadians who don’t were pretty much shut out of the action.
Sure, they could have followed the event on radio, or taken in the game at a neighbourhood bar, but that’s not necessarily ideal.
Plus, the game couldn’t even be easily accessed live on the Internet.
The Canadian Football League sold its fans down the river when it handed the broadcast rights to the game to TSN.
Had the contest been broadcast by either CBC or CTV, many more Canadians would have been able to watch.
But, in this case, it appears the CFL was simply motivated by money.
That shortsighted approach will, no doubt, cost it fans in the long run.
After all, how are kids supposed to get excited about the Grey Cup when many of them were denied an opportunity to watch the game?
This isn’t the first time that TSN has let the Canadian people down.
TSN viewers were unable to see the first 4:50 of the previous week’s Calgary-Saskatchewan CFL West final due to a satellite glitch.
And the network had an even bigger screwup with its Vanier Cup coverage.
As sports commentator Bruce Dowbiggin has noted, “The first two TDs in the Queen’s-Calgary game were missed completely by a transmission box failure. Service was restored and then lost twice as Rod Smith, Darren Dutchyshen did the Ralph Kramden ‘humina-humina’ back at the Grey Cup anchor desk in Calgary. The same transmission problem Saturday also put Radio Canada’s French broadcast of the Vanier off the air, too.
“When service was restored, the quality of TSN’s cast was less than their standard. Cameras followed the wrong runner, switching problems left the wrong camera on screen and there was the usual bevy of ‘Oh, my’ from an effusive Rod Black.”
Obviously, TSN really fumbled the ball this time.
Perhaps it’s time for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to require that national sporting championships only be broadcast on networks that are available to people with “peasant-view” broadcast television, as well as cable and satellite subscribers.
That might limit competition for broadcasting rights to such outfits as CTV, Global and CBC, but so what?
For years, the CRTC has required radio stations to broadcast Canadian music (not that there isn’t quality Canadian music out there).
Why not force the TV networks to make the Grey Cup, Stanley Cup, World Series and NBA championship available to every Canadian with a television set?
Ironically, on Sunday there were at least a couple of National Football League games available on broadcast rather than cable television.
Perhaps, if the CFL is going to neglect its fans so severely by allowing the Grey Cup to be shown only on TSN, Canadians should forget about this country’s game and get interested in the four-down version played south of the international border.
Anyone up for Monday Night Football?
Lee Giles is an Advocate editor.