I'm Mad as Hell

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and I can't do a thing about it

Monopoly…a Canadian way of doing business

A lot of you will look at the deal to buy Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) by Bell and Rogers as simply a sports deal. You may be questioning what this means for the future of your favorite sports franchise, be it the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Toronto Raptors, TFC (the soccer team), maybe even the Toronto Blue Jays or one of the other six NHL teams in Canada. If you are a sports fan in this country and whether you love the dismal Toronto franchises, or love to see them fail year after year, there are real sporting implications…the truth though, whether you like to hear it or not, is that the future of the Leafs success on ice is mostly irrelevant in this deal.

The sale of MLSE is about content rights, who will control the television, radio, internet, mobile, etc. rights to the sporting content generated by these teams. In those terms this is a very frightening deal. Bell and Rogers are already the two most powerful media conglomerates in Canada. They own and manage, some would say mismanage, 80 television stations including all of the major sports stations on TV. They own 88 radio stations including all of the major sports-talk stations. They will pick up an additional three television licenses that MLSE owns. Together they own the vast majority of Canada’s online and mobile services. You think that it’s just Bell and Rogers? Think again. They also own Virgin, Solo, ChatR and Fido, and of course the largest satellite and cable companies too.

It’s hard to believe that a few short years ago it was deemed illegal for a cable or satellite company to own a television station, let alone a network. Thank you CRTC.

This concentration of power will be bad for everyone. While Bell and Rogers are busy divvying up the nation, they leave little room for their competition. This means they can do with sports content what they have done with mobile technology and cable and satellite delivery. They can control access and they can control price. All you have to do to see the future is to look at what these to companies have done in the past. Canadians pay among the highest rates in the world for mobile service and internet access, and Bell and Rogers continually strive to keep competition out through influence on government and regulatory bodies and with unfair discount practices that disappear when the competition is wiped out. To quote Ellen Roseman in the Toronto Star, “Rogers and Bell bludgeon customers into accepting a flurry of extra charges for wireless phones. They hit them with unexpected bills for data roaming and third party text messages.”

Roseman goes to describe some of the dirty practices of Bell and Rogers that include discounts that evaporate before the subscriber ever sees them, raised prices that make the discounts offered moot, and of course, some 8000 complaints from Canadians to the government last year about how they are being treated by telecommunications companies like Bell and Rogers.

I expect to see access to Toronto’s sports franchises on radio and television to change in three ways, first, you will see far more games on Rogers Sportsnet and TSN and expect to see fewer games in which let’s say the Calgary Flames or Winnipeg Jets own the rights. Why pay the owners of a third party NHL club when you can pay yourself and fill the same amount of air time? Second, I see fewer opportunities for non-MLSE affiliated channels like CBC and Global to get the rights to the most popular sports entertainment. Finally, I see the possibility of a new pay channel that replaces Leafs-TV and Raptors-TV with a new sports channel that forces the public to pay big subscription fees to gain access to games that will no longer be available on any other channel, think MSG Network (Madison Square Gardens) or YES Network (Yankee Entertainment) two very profitable networks in the United States that control all of the most popular sports franchises in the New York City area.

Lastly I want to make a point about the way sports journalism will be affected. Since the owners of MLSE will now control virtually all of the sports broadcast media who will be left to criticize the missteps and worse the arrogance of this new sporting monster?

Will the guys at The Fan or TSN Radio take on their corporate bosses? Will they lose jobs and be punished for doing so? Does anyone see the conflict of interest here? Does anyone at the competition bureau or the CRTC care?

In the past few months Rogers and Bell have been busy buying the services of dozens of the best print sports writers to fill slots on radio and television and to write for new magazines. Most have quit their print jobs like Stephen Brunt, some like Damien Cox keep a foot in both camps. It is my contention that just about every sports writer in Canada is at least partially beholden to either Bell or Rogers. Sure you may write for a local paper in Vancouver that’s owned by the Post group or an independent in Toronto like the Toronto Star, but you all supplement your income, your reach and your popularity with appearances on one of the Bell or Rogers sports television and radio channels. Do you want to blow your chances for more guest shots? I think not. So, when the Toronto Raptors decide to spend less money and refuse to sign a free agent that’s available and who might make the team competitive, or merely watchable, will you write about it or just keep it to yourself? When TFC charges more for tickets than Manchester United (this is already a fact) will you shout about it in your column or is discretion a better road to take? For those of you who haven’t seen it, The Globe and Mail, which should stop calling itself Canada’s national newspaper, barely noticed this story. Why?

Sports journalism is for the most part an oxymoron in Canada. The last bastions were the daily newspapers in the major cities. Bell and Rogers have figured out how to co-opt even this small amount of opposition. Now it can only get worse.

Canadians in general and sports fans in particular will be the big losers if this deal is allowed to go through. The only way to stop it is if all Canadians get up of their backsides and scream at their political representatives. There’s one thing more powerful than the money and influence Bell and Rogers can and do wield, that is the threat of losing the next election.

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Poor Sports

As anyone who regularly reads my blog knows I am obsessed with the fact that daily news on television and in the newspapers has not kept up with the times. I am amazed that Canadian broadcasters continue to produce national newscasts in the same style that they were produced 30, 40 or even 50 years ago. This despite the fact that the internet and all-news television has made the way viewers watch TV news change dramatically.

Newspapers have added style and shrunk their pages but they too continue to pump out their daily editions as if the internet had never been invented and they choose stories as if we, the consumers of news, have not seen any TV news or looked at the web.

I sometimes wonder what it will take for a few modern ideas to take hold. For the various media to assess what they do well and just as important the ways in which they can’t compete or even provide a valuable service. National newscasts, for example cannot possibly compete with the speed of all news television. All news on the other hand, does not have the time or the staff to look at stories in depth. I should not have to spell out the direction each should go in.

The internet pumps out volumes of information from all kinds of sources. The problem is an internet reader cannot always know or trust the sources of that information. I have a hard time watching the national newscasts because it seems like déjà vu. I have seen or heard the stories all day long. Newspapers are even slower. I sometimes feel like I have seen every story in my newspaper, it is yesterday’s news. I would love to see my newspapers filled with more opinion, more columnists from all across the political spectrum and because they have the staffs and the time, way more investigation and in depth stories.

This is all a long preamble to what I consider the most archaic and outdated source of news that exists today: the local news sportscast. Look, I am a huge sports fan. I love all the major sports and a few of the minor ones too. I am constantly surfing the web for the latest scores and sports news. I take part in hockey and baseball pools and have been known to make a bet on the NFL. So I am not coming at this as an artsy elitist or a news purist. I understand where the sportscast came from. In the “old” days there was no TSN, no the Score, no Rogers Sportsnet. The only opportunity most TV viewers had to see the scores and highlights was on their local newscast. In five to eight minutes the local sportscaster would let the audience know how their local teams performed, if there were any injuries and of course, show the best goals, touchdowns and home runs. If he, it was always a he until City-TV came along, had time, he would tell you whether the rival teams won or lost. In some cases local sports ran a crawl or put up a list of all the scores. They had a job to do and they did it well enough.

Can someone tell me the point of the local sportscast today? If I want to see highlights I have the choice of eight sports channels on television in Canada. I can go to the internet and find the scores to any game, whether finished or still playing. Heck I can even find out who is at bat as we speak or what yard line and which team has the ball in the football game. At the end of the day I can see an hour long sportscast that gives me all the scores, all the highlights, a few feature stories and even a panel discussion. If I want to just find out whether the Blue Jays or the Stampeders or the Canucks won or lost I can tune in The Score and look at the bottom of the screen. In a matter of minutes I will see every score in every game in every sport.

If you are a sports fan you have all kinds of ways and means of keeping up to date and truth be told, you find the local news sportscast inadequate at best and laughable at worst. If you are not a sports fan you probably could care less.

So why waste the time, money and the resources it takes to produce an inadequate and obsolete portion of the show? Wouldn’t local news be better served by hiring three or four more news reporters and dumping the three or four sports hosts and reporters? Wouldn’t the newscast love to have the camera operators assigned to sports available to news? I haven’t even mentioned the editing time that is currently gobbled up by sports. I don’t know anyone who watches their local newscast to see the sports news anymore yet we are still pouring all kinds of resources into the sportscast.

None of this means I want sports to disappear from local news. I would just like to see sports covered like all of the other news. When something important or interesting is going on, send out a journalist to cover the event. A good feature on the small crowds at the Blue Jays games would be of interest. The fight over a new stadium for the Tiger Cats in Hamilton is news. If the Leafs ever win the Stanley Cup the rash of heart attacks throughout Toronto and Canada will be a lead item. These stories can and should be handled by the journalists who cover their cities every day. There is no need to waste a long portion of the newscast on badly produced, incomplete and archaic segments that are available elsewhere to anyone who is really interested in the information.

So if anyone knows the answer to my queries I would love to hear from you. In the meantime I suspect the only answer is: ‘you know we have always done it this way and we haven’t really given it any thought.’ Isn’t that how most of the Canadian media works today?

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Poor Sports

For a sports fan there is no better time of year. In hockey the Stanley Cup playoffs, especially the first two rounds are as usual, a sight to behold. Need I mention the Memorial Cup and the world championships? The basketball playoffs are underway too. Baseball has started. Soccer is winding down in Europe, heating up in North America and the World Cup is on the horizon. The football drafts have just passed and fans are looking ahead to their favorite teams’ prospects in the upcoming season. Tiger is back patrolling the greens and fairways. Horse racing’s “triple crown” has begun. Heck even the lacrosse playoffs have started for those who are interested. I believe it can be described as a cornucopia of sports stories, events and action, certainly enough to more than fill the one hour sportscasts produced by TSN and Rogers’ Sportsnet.

Then why am I so turned off by both productions? I am a huge sports fan. As proof I offer up the fact that I still buy tickets to the Jays and the Argos. That should prove I am more than a fan, I’m a glutton for punishment. But I can no longer take most of the punishment dished out by Canada’s two biggest sports broadcasters.

Based on the great ratings and the huge profits TSN and Rogers’ Sportsnet are raking in I must be in the minority. Nevertheless, I cannot believe the viewers that are over 18-years-old are impressed with what is being aired. Yes, both networks are adept at producing highlights. Thankfully, at this time of the year there are plenty of those. I think they are what keep the fans tuning in. If I watched the hockey game, the baseball and basketball highlights give me an opportunity to see the best plays I missed and keep me up to date on scores and injuries.

What turns me off, though, among other things, are the incessant panels that fail to tell me anything new. Listening to the same guys drone on and on making the exact same points they made last October and have repeated ad nauseum throughout the hockey season is a waste of my time and I would hope a waste of your time to. Panels are a poor excuse for journalism. Opinions are interesting when they are fresh, when they tell me something I don’t know or haven’t heard, but when it boils down to predicting who will win the series, who will score the winning goal in overtime, and TSN’s ludicrous, “the quiz”, can anyone pretend there is any journalism or real value in what is being spouted?

The question all sports fans should be asking is: where is the journalism? Where are the reporters seeking out the stories? Where are the great stories about the interesting characters in the games? ABC’s Roone Arledge brought this concept to television more than 35 years ago. On any given day the sports sections of The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star have more real stories and journalism than six months of SportsCentre on TSN. I understand that TSN is basically a highlights show, fine, but they claim to be a newscast too, so other than the recaps, where is the news? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, sports journalism is an oxymoron on television. The newspapers do a great job, The Fan radio and radio stations like it across the country, especially Bob McCown’s show, does a good job of trying to find the whys and wherefores. The print and radio guys actually try to speak to the sources, the people making the news. They get interviews and quotes from and with the newsmakers themselves. TSN and Rogers’ Sportsnet have panel discussions.

I hate the glib insider talk and repartee that passes for hosting at both networks. The hosts kid each other, they banter, they fill air space. The talk is seldom relevant, it’s supposed to pass for show business and it is almost always juvenile. Guys, when you kid each other about your Alberta roots or the losses of your favorite teams, I don’t care.

I’m not crazy about the fact that most TV sportcasters seem to think the hockey fights are as important as the goals scored and the results, Rogers’ Sportnet being the worst offender.

Finally, a particular pet peeve of mine. The hockey game goes into overtime. It ends at 10:14 pm. TSN begins SportsCentre at 10:17 with tease: “Can the Habs continue to roll against the dominant Caps? Can the Caps finally put away the upstart Habs?” Hello! Is there a single person who tuned to TSN at exactly10:17 just to watch the sports news? Hasn’t every single viewer seen the game winning goal in overtime? You look stupid when you treat the audience stupidly. I don’t know if is sheer laziness, you produced the opening an hour ago and you don’t want to change it, or you just don’t care. I suspect the former.

Sports news on television plays to teenage boys. Sure adults watch too, but I find it hard to believe they, the adults, are anything more than casual observers who don’t have anything else to watch until CTV news comes on at 11.

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The Olympic Muzzle

There’s a new Olympic sized media brouhaha that’s popping up at CTVglobemedia. It appears that CTV and The Globe are so fearful of criticism of their Olympic coverage that they are willing to muzzle their own people.

A few days ago I asked Bruce Dowbiggin, The Globe’s sports media columnist, why his column has disappeared. He did not really answer my question instead changing the subject. This is not the Bruce Dowbiggin I know who is one of the straightest shooting media people in Canada. He tells it like he sees it no matter what the circumstances. Just ask Don Cherry.

Then I saw this blog by William Houston. He is the former sports media columnist for The Globe and Mail and perhaps has an insight that is unavailable to the rest of us. Here’s what Houston had to say:

Where’s the Globe’s media critic?
“Curiously, Bruce Dowbiggin, the sports broadcast columnist for The Globe and Mail, has not written a word of analysis about Vancouver Olympic TV coverage.
Chris Zelkovich, who writes on sports television for The Toronto Star, has been filing daily columns. I’m writing for Yahoo! Canada in addition to filing to this webpage. There seems to be interest in what CTV and NBC are doing.
But Bruce? He’s cobbling together quotes about the Winter Games from the international media. His Feb. 18 collection consisted of seven quotes from sources such as an NBC news release and newspaper stories in the United States and Britain.
Why isn’t Dowbiggin critiquing the coverage of CTV and NBC? I emailed him and asked, but he didn’t respond. So, let’s guess:
Bruce decided to take some time off and just enjoy the Games on TV. Or the Globe didn’t feel it necessary to analyze the CTV telecasts. (Saturday’s edition includes a short feature by sports writer James Christie on Brian Williams and announcer Rod Black.)
Or perhaps it was decided Bruce would be in an untenable conflict of interest by being required to critique the Olympic coverage of a network (CTV) that is owned by the company (CTVglobemedia) that also owns the Globe.
But, that can’t be the reason. After all, he writes about TSN and TSN2, which are owned by CTVglobemedia. Other media writers comment all the time on the work of outlets owned by the company for which they work. Phil Mushnick, the sports broadcasting columnist for The New York Post, comments on Fox Sports. Both Fox and the Post are owned by News Corp. Howard Kurtz writes on media for The Washington Post and regularly critiques his own newspaper. It can’t be a conflict of interest issue, can it? The mystery continues.”

There’s really no mystery is there. CTV is afraid of a little honest commentary. I am led to believe that while Bruce Dowbiggin is collecting quotes, John Doyle was supposed to be critiquing the coverage. Well John is missing in action on that front. Oh, like Bruce he’s in the newspaper every day but I guess he doesn’t think Olympic coverage is worthy of a column or two. Give me a break. It is all too obvious that the muzzles are on and the journalism, on this subject for sure, has been shut down.

The bigger point is that it is a nutty decision. CTV and the Olympic consortium are doing a very good job. The network, along with TSN, Rogers Sportsnet, APTN and the internet have covered the Olympics better than they have ever been covered before, anywhere. Brian Williams is doing his usual masterful job of staying on top of everything and keeping the viewers well informed, I wish CTV used Brian more often and all year round.  On Sportsnet and TSN they are doing a very credible job covering events live. The internet coverage has been excellent providing both live action and add-on information never before available at an Olympic event.

There have been some surprise stars too. James Duthie has proven to be an excellent host whose wit and presence has brightened our screens. Sale and Pelletier are the best figure skating analysts I have ever heard. Their honesty and friendly family bickering have been a breath of fresh air. Jamie Campbell has been a revelation. For several years the far too stoic voice of the Blue Jays, he has come alive at the games. His call of Canada’s first gold medal will be most memorable for years to come.

Importantly, while the Canadian athletes have “blown the podium” the CTV coverage has been as close to flawless as can be expected. These Olympics are a huge enterprise. The technology and the partnerships have made almost total coverage possible. The consortium has put it all together in a way that will spoil us for anything less in the future. Will Canadians ever settle for single channel coverage of high-lights with the odd bit of live action thrown in again? We have seen the future and we like it. No, we demand it. All you have to do is tune in NBC to see the old style coverage. I guarantee you will be back to our Canadian channels very quickly.

The consortium gets a gold medal. CTVglobemedia gets a DNF (did not finish) for their fearfulness.

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Hijacking the Torch

Who knew when it started that the Olympic Torch Relay would not only become an interminable tortoise run across Canada but worse that it would be hijacked in the most crass way by CTV, TSN and The Globe and Mail.

How do you make this patriotic run up to one of the most exciting sporting events in the world boring? Just ask the broadcasters and newspapers who own the rights to air the winter Olympics from Vancouver and Whistler.

When the torch relay began it became clear that CTV was going to cover it and run it like it is an in house event, a reality show for the rights holders. I don’t know how the torch bearers are chosen but I do know the best way to guarantee that you will get the opportunity to squeeze into one of those nifty white suits and strut down an avenue close to home making like Lady Liberty. The best way: become an on air personality for CTV or one of its affiliates. Whether it’s Seamus O’Regan in St. John’s or Ben Mulroney in Sept Iles it became very obvious very quickly that this wasn’t Canada’s torch relay it was the CTV/Globemedia torch relay.

Night after night we are treated to pictures and clips not from ordinary Canadians, not from former Olympians, not even from youngsters who dreamed of toting the flame through their home town. No, we get words and pictures of CTV celebs like Sandy Rinaldo doing their bit to advertise the fact that CTV is the Olympic Broadcaster.

Leaving aside the fairness issue, that is whether all Canadians should have had an equal opportunity to carry the Olympic Torch, since when is it okay for reporters and hosts to make themselves the story? How do you cover an event if you are the star of that event? We all know the answer, you can’t and shouldn’t but that hasn’t slowed CTV one bit. Night after night their employees get first billing and the star treatment as they heft their torches through the streets and highways of the country.

Worse than unfair, it is stupid television production. CTV, TSN and The Globe are missing great opportunities almost daily to focus on the most heartwarming, interesting, crazy and uplifting stories that I am sure are there among the just plain folks who are doing the bulk of the relay. These great stories should be the centerpiece of the coverage. The stories of real Canadians from coast-to-coast-to- coast should be hi-lighted to show how an event like the Olympics can unite a country and bring out the best patriotic passion that Canadians are so shy about.

TSN could be focusing on the former Olympians and retired athletes making one last contribution to the Canadian Olympic effort.

Instead CTV and TSN have turned what should have been a democratic event into an in house broadcast. Pity.

And I’m afraid that’s not the worst of it. In the past few days, just north of Toronto and near Brantford, Ontario we have seen the complete abdication of CTV, TSN and Globe journalism. Native people, unhappy with the symbolism and their plight in this country have used the torch relay to make their point. Protests and roadblocks have been set up forcing the relay off its planned route twice. Interestingly CTV and the paper that calls itself “Canada’s National Newspaper” have chosen to all but ignore the protests. Why? When CTV paid millions for the rights did they give up on their job as journalists in order to become Olympic cheerleaders? If so, I would advise watching the Olympics on NBC.

A few years ago I produced a documentary on Sale and Pelletier, those wonderful figure skaters who were cheated out of a gold medal. It took forever to get CTV approval to tell the story because they were afraid it would reflect badly on the Olympic movement. We had to promise them that the IOC (the International Olympic Committee) would come out smelling like a rose because they forced the skating body to rectify the problem. The doc was a huge success garnering 1.5 million viewers. CTV came back to us and asked us to do another Olympic themed doc. We suggested a look at the anti-doping lab in Montreal. Montreal is the anti-doping centre for the Olympics and Dick Pound, a Canadian, is the anti-doping king. This is something Canadians should be proud of and informed about. The work done in Montreal is pivotal and we were actually granted full access to the labs and their work. No way, said CTV. Doping is not the kind of positive story we are looking for. Enough said about where CTV, TSN and the Globe are coming from.

Today’s Globe mentioned the fact that the relay had to change its route to Brantford but they did not bother to do any stories about what the native peoples on the Six Nations Reserve were protesting. They didn’t even cover the protest. When the protest north of Toronto took place a few days ago CTV National News ignored not only the protest but the issues around the protest. I daresay CTV and TSN will continue to ignore the Six Nations story. In fact it looks to me like CTV, TSN and The Globe will continue to ignore any negative stories that pop up between now and the time that CTV, TSN and The Globe lose the media rights to the Olympic Games four years from now.

Let’s hope CBC gets the Olympic rights back sooner rather than later because history has shown us that while CBC Sports may have glossed over some controversial issues, they did not abandon their journalism. And CBC News never shied away from the negative stories. Brian Williams is a fine reporter and sports journalist. Too bad it looks like CTV and TSN will never allow him to do what he does best.

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Dropping the Ball

A few years ago I was a guest on a Hamilton radio station discussing the proposition that sports journalism on television is an oxymoron. Brian Williams, who was still with CBC Sports at the time, was my opposite number on the debate. He took great umbrage at the proposition. His proof being his own excellent work on several Olympic games including the coverage of the Ben Johnson scandal and Ross Regabliatti’s near disqualification for having traces of marijuana in his blood among others.

Concerning himself, he was right. Brian Williams has made a long career of trying to actually practice sports journalism on TV. His recent Olympic and CFL mini-docs for CTV and TSN are no exception. Brian has proved to be a fine story teller and a prime example of how it should be done. But Brian could not name another television reporter who was doing the same. CBC did eventually produce an excellent weekly sports journalism show but today that’s long gone. Bruce Dowbiggin won a well deserved Gemini Award for his work on the Alan Eagleson scandal, but CBC sports refused to run his work so it ran on CBC News. Bruce is no longer a TV reporter, he’s a Globe and Mail columnist.

Now, name another sports journalist on TV today. I dare you. Rogers Sportsnet and TSN produce hours and hours of what purports to be sports “news” every week. A viewer is warned not to hold his or her breath waiting for journalism. For the most part, say 80 percent, the coverage consists of highlights from earlier action. On earlier shows there’s the odd preview of upcoming action. The rest of the show is filled with banter and lists of the top plays, best fights, whatever can be scrambled together from the archives to fill out the hours. But journalism, as in WHY an event or situation occurs and where it’s going, you won’t find it here.

It seldom existed on local television newscasts either. When you have only five or six minutes to recap the day’s events there is little room on the sportscast for actual journalism.

The one place I would expect some enterprising sports reportage in Canada is on hockey broadcasts. Now that games come in at just over two and one half hours there is a 30 minute hole to fill, and that’s on top of two 15 minute between period segments. So where are the stories? Where’s the field work? Where’s the old “up-close-and-personals” that we see on the NFL coverage and even NBA coverage. The same sportscasters that lament the lack of star power in hockey are doing nothing to alleviate the problem.

Hockey Night in Canada is truly a wasteland. The first intermission is always Coach’s Corner with Don Cherry and Ron MacLean. I will be the first to admit that it’s an entertaining segment. It’s like waiting for a train wreck. When is Don going to say something stupid about fighting or foreign born players? How will Ron get a word in and when he does what silly pun will the viewers be treated to? Between Don’s “I told you so’s” and Ron’s slavish support of the dinosaurs of hockey it is all too predictable and lacks any semblance of information.

Cut to the second intermission and the viewer is treated to a panel of rumor mongers led by Al Strachan. Has anyone kept tabs on how many times Al’s insights turn out to be correct? I suspect they are few. In any case this is inside hockey talk that speaks to a small minority of Canadians. If you want to sell the game and increase the ratings it’s time to go back to story telling. When I was a youngster there were actual feature stories on players, coaches, owners, referees, etc. They created interest in the people around hockey. They introduced us to the personalities that make any sport more accessible.

It’s not any better at TSN. The same panel returns intermission after intermission with the same predictable opinions. No depth. Nothing new. Cheapo TV that fills minutes rather than enterprising reporting and journalism that could really wow an audience. On TSN they even use the same formula for football, but at least on CFL coverage they do have the Brian Williams stories.

It is frightening to see how low game coverage has sunk to in Canada. Interestingly this has come at a time when sports journalism has been growing by leaps and bounds in this country. The newspapers are doing a great job. The Globe and Mail in particular has a fine group of writers and columnists. You seldom pick up a sports section without seeing great stories, interesting commentary and real insight into what is happening in the sports world. Writers like Stephen Brunt, Dave Shoalts, and Bruce Dowbiggin in the Globe and Damien Cox and Doug Smith in the Toronto Star never seem to fail in finding new stories and new angles that make one think about sports in new and interesting ways. They engage their readers with new information and new insights.

Even on radio, where sports radio has talk shows like Bob McCown’s show on The Fan 590, to delve into the issues by going to experts and people in the know. Sure, they have panels too, but they don’t stop there. McCown and the other radio hosts get interviews with general managers, coaches and players. They talk to Jim Balsillie and his lawyers. They get legal experts and business experts to help us understand the underlying decisions being made by leagues and teams. There is a strong attempt to answer the only real journalistic question: WHY.

At a time when sports is as much about the legal and business affairs of players, teams and leagues Canadian television is dropping the ball.

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About the Author

Howard Bernstein is a former TV producer. He has worked at CBC,CTV, Global and has produced shows for most Canadian channels as an independent producer.

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