Canada Olympics Rights Go to CBC With Help From Rogers, BCE

Canada’s public broadcaster won the rights to air the Olympic Games in 2018 and 2020, with pay-TV providers Rogers Communications Inc. and BCE Inc. supplementing the coverage on their own networks.

Canadian Broadcasting Corp. President Hubert Lacroix announced the deal today at an event in Toronto, without disclosing financial terms. Two years ago, CBC got the rights to air the 2014 and 2016 games, returning the Olympics to the network for the first time since 2008.

The agreement lets CBC, which is struggling with budget cuts, avoid losing control of a major sports franchise after Rogers wrested away National Hockey League rights last year. CBC now licenses its 62-year-old broadcast, Saturday’s “Hockey Night in Canada,” from Toronto-based Rogers.

“The broadcast partnership model we’ve put forward is both respectful of the stature of the games and fiscally responsible,” Lacroix said in a statement on CBC’s website. “Partnering with Bell Media, along with Rogers Media, shows the public broadcaster can play a role in bringing together the larger broadcast community in the interest of the Canadian audience.”

The deal includes the 2018 winter games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and the 2020 summer games in Tokyo. CBC will get “first-tier” events on its network, with Rogers and Bell dividing the rest evenly, said Jeffrey Orridge, executive director of CBC Sports. The broadcaster will lead the editorial direction of the coverage, he said.

Canada’s Conservative government said in 2012 it would cut CBC’s C$1.16 billion ($1.04 billion) annual funding by 10 percent over three years, leading to layoffs and show cancellations. The public broadcaster needs to stop transmitting over the air and be sold to cable and satellite providers like a specialty channel to survive tougher competition from Internet-delivered TV like Netflix Inc., Lacroix told regulators last month.

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