Asleep at the switch?

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:53 AM ET

A turned off cell phone is the reason why diehard CFL fans in front of TV sets from one end of the country to the other - with the exception of those in Saskatchewan - were left in the dark late Saturday night.

After Mother Nature had knocked out the power at Regina's Mosaic Stadium, CBC's coverage of the Edmonton-Saskatchewan game disappeared.

When CBC got power back to its mobile production unit just before play resumed 58 minutes later, though, the broadcast was only beamed live into the Saskatchewan market on TV and through the internet - leaving fans steamed.

"Quite frankly, the wrong decisions were made and the game should have been broadcast nationally when the lights came back on," said Scott Moore, the executive director of CBC sports. "I take responsibility simply in that my cell phone was not on.

"And being that it was one o'clock in the morning in the east, I was unfortunately asleep. The decisions that got made were incorrect and we have already put a process in place to make sure that doesn't happen again."

If Moore had been able to take the call from his staffers, the direction would have been simple: interrupt the movie and put the thrilling ending to a wild Saskatchewan win on the entire network.

The game appeared live in Saskatchewan because of a programming decision made without his consultation. Moore's home number wasn't known to his staffers because he had just moved.

Needless to say, the CFL and the Edmonton Eskimos aren't too pleased.

"We are truly disappointed that this has happened," said CFL commissioner Mark Cohon yesterday. "Our concerns and dismay have been conveyed to the CBC. We express regret to our fans and we will work with our broadcast partners to ensure that this does not happen again."

Moore and Cohon spent considerable time together yesterday afternoon discussing the topic.

In the future, a live CFL event can't be pulled off the air in this fashion without the permission of Moore or someone higher in the CBC ranks.

Eskimos' management was certainly puzzled by the programming move to show the game in Regina but not in Edmonton - the market where likely the most fans were tuning in.

"We are disappointed for our fans," said Eskimo communications director Dave Jamieson. "I'm surprised it (the game) didn't come back on. There are programming challenges but the fact they couldn't get it on in one of the provinces where the team is (from) ..."

Ironically, the CBC is set to televise the Esks next game in Calgary on Labour Day.

FINISH LINES: At least Edmonton fans were able to hear the completion of the game on radio. In fact, 630 CHED announcers Bryan Hall and Dave Campbell were able to keep the broadcast going in a relatively dark press box by using cell phones.


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