SBD/January 24, 2011/Media

TSN Radio Becomes A Reality As Canada Media Battle Heats Up

TSN's "long-rumoured radio operation will go ahead later this year, after BCE Inc. takes full control of CTV Inc., the parent company of TSN," according to Bruce Dowbiggin of the GLOBE & MAIL. TSN Radio, designed to challenge Rogers Communications' Sportsnet Radio Fan 590 in Toronto and Fan 960 in Calgary, has been "one of the prime projects championed by BCE's Bell Canada unit as it takes over operations." Fan 960 morning host Mike Richards has signed on "to become the morning drive host" for TSN Radio in Toronto. Richards did "not appear on his FAN 960 show Friday morning and his identification is being removed from the website." Sources indicated that Richards "sent his resignation late Thursday night to the station where he’s worked the past six years." It is believed that he will "have full creative control over his show, which will likely be simulcast on TSN or TSN2" (GLOBESPORTS.com, 1/21).

BATTLE FOR ATTENTION: In Toronto, Chris Zelkovich noted Canada's sports broadcasting business is "about to change even more" than it already has. There are "battles being waged for talent as broadcasters scramble to entrench themselves for the ultimate war for sports fans’ eyeballs." It is a "war that includes the usual suspects -- TSN, Rogers Sportsnet and the CBC -- as well as a relative newcomer in Shaw Communications." Zelkovich noted at the "epicentre of this seismic activity" is Rogers Media President Keith Pelley, whose "departure from the CTV/TSN family for rival Rogers Communications last summer set things in motion." The first "real showdown between Sportsnet and TSN will come, not on television, but on radio when TSN launches its national network of stations in April." TSN could "run a relatively inexpensive operation using a lot of its own simulcasts." Also in play are "some of Canada’s most valued sports rights," including the '14 Sochi Games and "Hockey Night in Canada" (TORONTO STAR, 1/22). The GLOBE & MAIL's Dowbiggin wrote with news last week of "talent raids and TSN’s plan to challenge Rogers on sports radio, the skirmishing between the two media giants finally broke into the open." Pelley is "about as popular with his old TSN chums as Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes" (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/24).
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