Transcript: The CBC on Losing 'Hockey Night in Canada' | Mar 29, 2019

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a blue suit, white shirt, and checked blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "The CBC on losing 'Hockey night in Canada.' @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says WE RECENTLY HAD SPORTS
WRITER DAVID SHOALTS HERE TO
DISCUSS HIS NEW BOOK "HOCKEY
FIGHT IN CANADA: THE BIG MEDIA
FACEOFF OVER THE NHL" WHICH
DETAILS HOW THE CBC LOST THE
"HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA."
BROADCAST RIGHTS TO ROGERS.
THE CBC TOOK SOME ISSUE WITH
SHOALTS' VERSION OF EVENTS IN
THE INTERESTS OF TIME WE WELCOME
CHUCK THOMPSON WHO IS THE HEAD
OF CBC ENGLISH SERVICES TO REBUT.

Chuck is in his late fifties, clean-shaven, with tousled blond hair. He's wearing round glasses, a beige tweed suit, blue shirt, and black tie.

Steve continues THANKS FOR COMING.

Chuck says THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

Steve says YOU SAW THE INTERVIEW
WHAT DID YOU THINK?

The caption changes to "Chuck Thompson. C.B.C."
Then, it changes again to "Our side of our story."

Chuck says I THOUGHT IT WAS AN
INTERESTING INTERVIEW BUT I
WOULD SAY IT'S A CONCERN TO US
AS MUCH AS Mr. SHOALTS GOT A
LOT OF THINGS RIGHT, THERE WERE
TIMES WHEN HE WENT ASTRAY WITH
SOME FACTS AND WHEN I FINISHED
WATCHING THE INTERVIEW I DECIDED
ON BEHALF OF CBC I NEEDED TO
REACH OUT TO YOU SPECIFICALLY
AND ASK IF WE COULD COME ON AND
SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE.

Steve says HERE YOU ARE.
I GUESS WHAT WE'LL DO OVER THE
NEXT PERIOD OF TIME IS JUST SHOW
YOU A FEW CLIPS FROM THE
INTERVIEW.
WE'LL GET WHAT HIS VIEW IS AND
THEN YOU CAN HAVE A CHANCE TO
REBUT.
SOUND GOOD?
SHELDON, FIRST CLIP IF YOU WOULD.

A clip plays on screen with the caption "March 11, 2019."
In the clip, Steve talks to a guest in the studio.

Steve says ONCE ROGERS AND
BELL... BECAUSE THEY BOTH CAME
IN NORTH OF 5 BILLION dollar OFFERS.
ONCE THEY'RE PUTTING THAT KIND
OF MONEY ON THE TABLE, IS IT
SAFE TO ASSUME THAT THE CBC JUST
COULDN'T PLAY IN THAT?

The caption changes to "David Shoalts."

David, in his fifties, with a mustache and glasses, says NO, THEY HAD NO CHANCE
AND THEY SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT
GOING IN.
THIS IS WHAT STILL ASTONISHES ME
FIVE, SIX YEARS LATER THAT YOU
THINK DIDN'T THESE GUYS DO THEIR
HOMEWORK?
THEY SEEMED TO HAVE THE ATTITUDE
THAT WHILE WE'VE BEEN PARTNERS
FOR THIS... WITH THIS NHL FOR 60
YEARS SO THAT SHOULD BUY US
SOMETHING.
THEY SHOULD... AND THEY CAME IN
WITH THIS... THE SAME SORT OF
OFFER THAT THEY HAD IN THE PAST.
AND WHAT THEY SHOULD HAVE DONE
RIGHT FROM THE START WAS FORM A
PARTNERSHIP WITH ONE OF THOSE
TWO ENTITIES... ROGERS OR
BELL... AND THEY STEADFASTLY
REFUSED.
AND IN THE END THEY GOT SHUT OUT
COMPLETELY.
AND IT DIDN'T HAVE TO HAPPEN.
IF THEY HAD JUST DONE THEIR
HOMEWORK.

The clip ends.

Steve says WELL OKAY.
A BUNCH OF THINGS GOING ON THERE.
NOT DOING DUE DILIGENCE NOT
DOING HOMEWORK, A BIT OF AN
ARROGANT APPROACH TO THE
BROADCASTING NEGOTIATIONS IN THE
FIRST PLACE.
WHAT'S YOUR ISSUE?

The caption changes to "Negotiations with the NHL."

Chuck says TO SUGGEST THAT WE
WEREN'T WELL PREPARED HEADING
INTO THOSE NEGOTIATIONS IS
ASTONISHING IN AND OF ITSELF TO
USE Mr. SHOALTS' WORD.
THE LEAD NEGOTIATORS, NEIL
McENEANEY INTERIM
VICE-PRESIDENT FOR ENGLISH
SERVICES AT THE TIME AND JEFFREY
ORRIDGE WHO WAS THE HEAD OF
SPORTS AT THE TIME, AMONG MANY
OTHER PEOPLE BEHIND THE SCENES,
LAWYERS, PEOPLE IN SALES, SPENT,
I WILL SAY, NORTH OF A YEAR
PREPPING FOR WHAT WOULD BE THESE
NEGOTIATIONS.
WE KNEW GOING INTO IT... OR
ABOUT WE ASSUMED I SHOULD SAY
GOING INTO IT THAT LIKE EVERY
OTHER MAJOR SPORTS LEAGUE IN THE
WORLD, THE NFL, MAJOR LEAGUE
BASEBALL, NBA, PGA TOUR,
TENNIS... YOU NAME IT.
THAT THE NHL WOULD DO WHAT
EVERYBODY ELSE HAD BEEN DOING,
INCLUDING THE NHL.
AND THAT IS TO BREAK UP THEIR
RIGHTS.

Steve says NOT GIVE IT TO
EVERYBODY.

Chuck says RIGHT.
WITH A VIEW TO GETTING THE MOST
AMOUNT OF MONEY.
AND NOT JUST GIVING IT TO ONE
BROADCASTER.
NATIONAL RIGHTS, REGIONAL
RIGHTS, LOCAL RIGHTS.
THAT'S HOW THEY MAXIMIZE THEIR
RIGHTS.
THE PROFIT FROM THEIR RIGHTS.

Steve says WERE YOU SORT OF
CAUGHT OFF GUARD WHEN THEY TOOK
A DIFFERENT APPROACH THIS TIME?

The caption changes to "Chuck Thompson, @ChuckTCBC."

Chuck says ABSOLUTELY.
AND I AM NOT HERE TO SPEAK FOR
BELL OR ROGERS BUT I THINK IT'S
FAIR TO SAY... AND IF I RECALL
IN THE INTERVIEW WITH DAVE
SHOALTS, NO ONE KNEW THAT THEY
WERE GOING TO GO WITH A SINGLE
GATEKEEPER APPROACH.
SO WHEN WE WERE PREPARING WE
WERE ASSUMING THAT WE WOULD GET
HOPEFULLY GET A PIECE OF THAT
PIE.
FULLY RECOGNIZING IT WOULD NEVER
BE THE SAME AGAIN.

Steve says ONCE THE LANDSCAPE HAD
CHANGED, THE SUGGESTION FROM
DAVE SHOALTS IS THAT YOU SHOULD
HAVE PARTNERED WITH ONE OF THOSE
OTHER FOLKS GOING IN.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Chuck says ON THAT POINT ALONE,
WE PARTNER WITH BELL AND ROGERS
AND HAVE HAD ON THE OLYMPIC
GAMES FOR MANY YEARS.
LONG BEFORE THESE RIGHTS EVEN
STARTED.
SO PARTNERSHIPS ARE NOT NEW TO
CBC.
THEY ARE NOT NEW TO ANYBODY.
IT'S HOW SPORTS WORK.
WE WENT INTO IT THINKING WE
WOULD GET A PORTION OF WHATEVER
THE NHL WOULD ARRIVE AT ONCE
THEY CONCLUDED THE NEGOTIATIONS.

Steve says SHOALTS ALSO SAYS IN
HIS BOOK, TALKING ABOUT GARY
BETTMAN, THAT BETTMAN HAD AN
ACUTE SENSE OF HIS OWN
IMPORTANCE AND, THEREFORE,
THOUGHT THAT THE COMPANIES HE
WAS NEGOTIATING WITH OUGHT TO
HAVE BEEN AT THE NEGOTIATING
TABLE. AND HERE'S WHAT SHOALTS
says IN THE BOOK...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Take me to your leader." The quote reads "Once it was clear [CBC President and CEO Hubert] Lacroix was not going to take an active role in the talks, the possibility the relationship between the NHL and CBC was finished emerged for the first time."
Quoted from David Shoalts, "Hockey fight in Canada." 2018.

Steve says BELL ALSO DID NOT HAVE THEIR CEO
IN THESE TALKS.
ROGERS DID.
ROGERS GOT IT.
WAS THAT A MISTAKE?

Chuck says I THINK IT'S EASY TO
PLAY HINDSIGHT.
I WOULD SAY THIS: SCOTT MOORE
WAS INSTRUMENTAL IN GETTING
NADIR MOHAMED TO THE TABLE FOR
ROGERS WHICH I THINK WAS VERY
SAVVY OF HIM.
DO I THINK THAT WAS THE REASON
WHY THE NHL GAVE THE RIGHTS
EXCLUSIVELY TO ROGERS?
I DON'T.
DO I KNOW THAT FOR SURE?
NO.
I THINK AT THE END OF THE DAY
THEY WANT ADD VERY LARGE CHEQUE
AT THE RISK OF BEING CANDID AND
THEY'RE ENTITLED TO THAT AND
THEY GOT IT.
BUT THERE WAS A LOT MORE TO IT
THAN JUST HAVING OUR CEO OR
ANYONE ELSE'S CEO AT THE TABLE.

Steve says THERE IS ALSO THE
SUGGESTION DAVE SHOALTS MAKES IN
THE BOOK THAT THE CBC AND NHL
FROM TIME TO TIME HAD A VERY
FRAUGHT RELATIONSHIP.
AND IN PARTICULAR HE POINTS TO
AN INTERVIEW THAT RON MCLEAN DID
WITH COMMISSIONER BETTMAN THAT
GOT... I DON'T KNOW I WATCHED
THE INTERVIEW.
I THOUGHT IT WAS FINE BUT A LOT
OF PEOPLE THOUGHT IT WAS VERY
TENSE.
THAT MCLEAN WAS CHIPPY WITH
BETTMAN AND THAT HE KIND OF
DIDN'T TAKE A JOURNALISTIC
APPROACH BUT RATHER HE SAID I'M
HERE TO REPRESENT THE PLAYERS IN
THIS INTERVIEW.
AND BETTMAN REALLY DIDN'T LIKE
THAT AND THAT GOT THINGS OFF THE
RAILS AS WELL.
DO YOU THINK THAT WAS AN ISSUE
IN THE NEGOTIATIONS NO.

Chuck says IT WASN'T INSIDE THE
ROOM FOR THE NEGOTIATIONS.
I CERTAINLY HEARD THAT GARY HAD
EXPRESSED SOME CONCERNS ABOUT
PERHAPS RON'S STYLE OF INTERVIEWING.
BUT I ALSO KNOW AND UNDERSTAND
THAT GARY WOULDN'T LET THAT GET
IN THE WAY OF WHAT ULTIMATELY
WAS BEST FOR THE NATIONAL HOCKEY
LEAGUE.
AND ITS OWNERS WHEN DOING THE
DEAL.
WE HAD A GREAT AND LONG STANDING
RELATIONSHIP WITH THE NATIONAL
HOCKEY LEAGUE.
AND RON MCLEAN WAS PART OF THAT
FOR MANY YEARS.
I THINK IT WAS SUCH A HUGE
ISSUE.
IT WOULD HAVE BEEN SURFACED AND
MAYBE IT DID OVER THE YEARS BUT
NOT SO MUCH THAT WE WOULD LOSE
THE RIGHTS OVER IT.

Steve says IN FACT WHEN MCLEAN
WAS REINSTATED AS WITH "HOCKEY
NIGHT IN CANADA" BETTMAN COULD
HAVE VETOED THAT AND THEY DID
NOT.
THEY KIND OF JOKE ABOUT THAT
THAT IT'S A LITTLE FRIENDLIER
THAN IT WAS ON THAT ONE
OCCASION.
HOLTZ ALSO REPORT THAT IS DURING
THE EXCLUSIVE NEGOTIATING WINDOW
THAT THE CBC HAD WITH THE NHL
THE CBC WAS OFFERED A SCALED
DOWN VERSION EVER "HOCKEY NIGHT
IN CANADA" BUT THAT YOU GUYS
TURNED IT DOWN.
IS THAT TRUE?
TO YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF THINGS?

Chuck says I AM NOT AWARE OF THAT.
THAT I JUST DON'T KNOW.

Steve says OKAY.
THE IDEA WAS CBC WOULD GET A
COUPLE OF GAME AS WE CAN
INCLUDING THE BIG SATURDAY NIGHT
THING WHICH HAD BEEN SUCH A
TRADITION.

Chuck says I THINK... AND
RESTATING WHAT I SAID EARLIER,
WE WENT INTO IT THINKING WE
WOULD GET SOMETHING. WE KNEW
IT WOULD NEVER BE THE SAME.
BECAUSE AT SOME POINT AND I
SHOULD SAY THIS AND TO BE FAIR
TO Mr. HOLTZ HE SAID IT.
THERE WAS NO SCENARIO, NOT ONE
WHERE THE PUBLIC BROADCASTER WAS
GOING TO BE WRITING A CHEQUE FOR
5.2 BILLION dollars.
IF ANYBODY THINKS OTHERWISE WITH
RESPECT THERE'S A REALITY CHECK
THERE THAT NEEDS TO BE SAID.

Steve says WELL, HERE'S DAVE
SHOALTS.
MAYBE DOING A BIT OF THAT
REALITY CHECK RIGHT NOW.
SHELDON, CLIP NUMBER TWO, PLEASE.

In another clip from the same interview, David says
THEY COMPOUNDED IT, ACTUALLY ONCE THEY LOST THE CONTRACT THEN THEY TURNED AROUND
AND GOT TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF IN A
REALLY ONE-SIDED DEAL.
THE ONE YOU JUST REFERRED TO.
AND THAT JUST INCREASED THE
ANGER OF THE STAFF BECAUSE THEY
SAID HOW COULD YOU THEN JUST
TURN AND AND HAND OVER OUR
AIRWAYS FOR FREE.
YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO IT'S NOT LIKE
ROGER HAS THEIR OWN NETWORK
READY TO GO.
IT WAS A HUGE BLUFF BY KEITH
PELLEY WHO WAS HEAD OF ROGERS
MEDIA AT THE TIME TO GET THE
DEAL AND THE CBC GUYS FELL FOR IT.
PELLEY SAID MY ONLY... IF THE
CBC HAD TOLD ME TO SHOVE IT MY
ONLY... I WOULD HAVE HAD TO GO
TO GLOBAL.
AND, AGAIN, GLOBAL DOESN'T HAVE
THE RIGHTS CBC DOES.
BUT INSTEAD THE CBC EXECUTIVES
SAID OH, OKAY, YEAH.

The clip ends.

Steve says AGAIN THE SUGGESTION
HERE IS THAT ROGERS, HAVING
ACHIEVED OWNERSHIP OF THE RIGHTS
BASICALLY WENT TO CBC AND SAID
HERE IS HOW IT'S GOING TO BE AND
YOUR EXECUTIVES, RATHER THAN
NEGOTIATING FOR A TOUGHER
POSITION SAID OKAY.

The caption changes to "Rogers and me."

Chuck says TO LOT TO UNPACK IN
WHAT OWE SAID.
I WILL DO MY BEST.
INSIDE AFTER VERY TIGHT 48-HOUR
WINDOW.
ONCE ROGERS HAD BEEN GIVEN THE
SINGLE GATEKEEPER RIGHTS, THEY
CAME TO US.
WE KNEW THEY WERE COMING TO US
BECAUSE GARY BETTMAN HAD
SIGNALED THAT TO HUBERT.
I CAN TELL YOU THAT THE VERY
FIRST OFFER THAT KEITH PELLEY
BROUGHT TO US WE TURNED DOWN.
Mr. SHOALTS DOESN'T TALK ABOUT
THAT.
THAT SAID, AGAIN INSIDE OF THAT
VERY SMALL WINDOW, OUR TEAM AND
THE ROGERS TEAM... WHO BY THE
WAY ARE A GREAT PARTNER, HAVE
BEEN A GREAT PARTNER AND
CONTINUE TO BE A GREAT PARTNER.
LANDED ON SOMETHING WHEREBY IT
WAS AN EXCHANGE OF ASSETS.
BUT I CAN TELL YOU, STEVE, IN NO
UNCERTAIN TERMS WE GAVE AWAY
NOTHING.
ABSOLUTELY NOTHING FOR FREE.
AND WHEN I HEARD Mr. SHOALTS
SAY THAT, IT'S SIMPLY NOT TRUE.
WHAT I CAN TELL YOU IS HE TALKED
ABOUT STUDIO SPACE.
HE TALKED ABOUT OFFICE SPACE.
"HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA."
OPERATES OUT OF FRONT STREET.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live."

Steve says HE TALKED ABOUT YOUR
PEOPLE HAVING TO VACATE THEIR
OFFICES AND MAKE SPACE FOR THE
ROGERS PEOPLE WHO THEN CAME IN.

Chuck says WE SHIFTED ON THE SAME
FLOOR.
WE HAVE IT NOW WHEREBY... AND
IT'S A BRAND NEW DEAL... THE
DEAL THAT HE WAS ALLUDING TO IN
THE BOOK... IS WHERE WE HAVE
HOCKEY ON CBC AND HAVE HAD AND
WILL CONTINUE TO HAVE, I MIGHT
ADD, FOR THE DURATION OF ROGERS'
12-YEAR DEAL WITH THE NATIONAL
HOCKEY LEAGUE.
EVERY SATURDAY REGULAR SEASON
AND ALL FOUR ROUNDS OF THE
HOCKEY PLAYOFFS.
AND WE, IN TURN, HAVE THAT RIGHT
GIVEN TO US BY ROGERS BY GIVING
THEM EVERYTHING FROM STUDIO
SPACE, OFFICE SPACE, PRODUCTION
RESOURCES BEHIND THE SCENES,
EDIT SUITES.

Steve says HOW MUCH OF THE AD
REVENUE?

Chuck says WE GET NOTHING OF THE
AD REVENUE BUT AT THE SAME TIME,
WE NO LONGER PAY THE NATIONAL
HOCKEY LEAGUE IN THE ORDER OF
105 MILLION dollars A YEAR.
BY THE END OF THE LIFE OF THE
LAST CONTRACT WE HAD WITH THE
LEAGUE, IT WAS MORE OR LESS
MONEY IN, MONEY OUT.
BECAUSE OVER THE... THE ONLY
TIME YOU MAKE MONEY IN THOSE
DEALS IS DURING THE PLAYOFFS.

Steve says AND IF CANADIAN TEAMS
GO DEEP.

Chuck says PARTICULARLY, BEING A
TORONTO MAPLE LEAF FAN, IF THE
LEAFS GO DEEP YOU REALLY SEE AN
UPSWING.
BUT THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN FOR SEVEN
YEARS.

Steve says I'M WELL AWARE OF THAT.

[LAUGHTER]

Steve says I SHARE YOUR PAIN.

Chuck says WE'RE ALL IN THERAPY.
BUT IT WAS A WASH.
AND SO THE ILLUSION THAT CBC WAS
MAKING HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF
DOLLARS IS NOT TRUE.
HUNDREDS OF JOBS WERE LOST.
NOT TRUE.
SHOWS WERE CANCELLED.
NOT TRUE.
ALL OF WHICH HE SAID ON THIS SHOW.

Steve says OKAY.
WELL, THAT WILL COME AS NEWS TO
A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO OBVIOUSLY
BELIEVE THAT WITHOUT THE AD
REVENUES FROM HOCKEY, THE CBC IS
IN INFINITELY MORE DIFFICULTY
THAN IT OTHERWISE MIGHT HAVE
BEEN.
WE'LL DO ONE MORE CLIP HERE OF
DAVE SHOALTS AND GET YOU TO
COMMENT ON THAT.
ON THE ISSUE OF AD REVENUE.
SHELDON, THANKS, IF YOU WOULD.

A third clip from the same interview plays.

David says MY BEST ESTIMATE WAS
THAT THEY WERE GETTING SOMEWHERE
AROUND, I THINK, 175 MILLION dollars A
YEAR... MAYBE A LITTLE LESS...
FOR ADVERTISING REVENUE.
JUST FOR "HOCKEY NIGHT IN
CANADA."
THAT SHOW DROVE THE WHOLE
NETWORK.
AND, AGAIN, YOU KNOW, FOR THEIR
EXECUTIVES TO GO INTO THIS AS
ILL PREPARED AS THEY WERE...
ALTHOUGH I SUPPOSE THEY'LL ARGUE
THEY WEREN'T IS INSANE.
BECAUSE YOU WIPED OUT HALF YOUR
ADVERTISING REVENUE.
AND YOU DID THAT WHILE THE
GOVERNMENT WAS CUTTING BACK ITS
CONTRIBUTION, WHICH IS MUCH
LARGER.
BUT AT THE SAME TIME, SO YOU'RE
GETTING WHIP SAWED BY THIS.
AND IT WAS A DEVASTATING LOSS TO
THE CORPORATION.
AND SHOWS WERE CANCELLED.
PEOPLE WERE LAID OFF.
IT JUST REVERBERATED RIGHT
THROUGH THE WHOLE COMPANY.

The clip ends.

Steve says WE GOT ABOUT A MINUTE
AND CHANGE LEFT FOR YOU TO
COMMENT ON THAT.

The caption changes to "The impact on the CBC."

Chuck says WE MADE ON A REALLY
GOOD YEAR WHEN THE LEAFS AND-OR
OTHER CANADIAN TEAMS MADE THE
PLAYOFFS, AS YOU SAID, WENT
DEEP, 130 MILLION dollars.
WE WERE PAYING 105 MILLION dollars IN
THE LATTER PART OF THE LAST
AGREEMENT.
DID WE MAKE SOME MONEY THEN?
OF COURSE WE DID.
BUT NOT TO THE TUNE THAT HE
SUGGESTS.
TO REPLACE HOCKEY AND IF WE'D
TURNED DOWN KEITH PELLEY AND
SAID NO WE'RE NOT DOING ANYTHING
WITH YOU, TO REPLACE IT, THE 3,
400 MILLION dollars WHEN YOU THINK
ABOUT EVERY SATURDAY NIGHT
THROUGH THE REGULAR SEASON PLUS
APRIL, MAY AND A GOOD CHUNK OF
JUNE.

Steve says YEAH.

Chuck says SIGNIFICANT
REPLACEMENT COSTS.
WE DON'T HAVE TO DO THAT
ANYMORE.
AND WE GET TO KEEP HOCKEY ON CBC
FULLY RECOGNIZING IT'S THE
ROGERS RIGHTS.
BUT PEOPLE CAN STILL WATCH
HOCKEY ON THE PUBLIC BROADCASTER
AND HOCKEY AND CBC BECAME, YOU
KNOW, WE USED TO SAY WE HAD A
60-YEAR DATE WITH CANADIAN
HOCKEY FANS EVERY SATURDAY NIGHT
AND RIGHT THROUGH THE SPRING AND
WE STILL DO.

The caption changes to "Producer: Eric Bombicino, @ebombicino."

Steve says AND YOU STILL DO.
CHUCK THOMPSON, THANK YOU FOR
ACCEPTING OUR INVITATION TO COME
IN AND PUT YOUR SIDE OF THE
STORY ON THE RECORD.
WE'RE GRATEFUL YOU MADE THE TIME
FOR US.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Chuck says THANK YOU VERY MUCH
FOR LETTING ME COME ON.

Steve says NOT AT ALL.

Watch: The CBC on Losing 'Hockey Night in Canada'