The People's pigskin intercepted?

DEAN MCNULTY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:08 AM ET

There were rumours swirling around media conglomerates yesterday that the CBC is on the verge of losing the rights to broadcast Canadian Football League games starting in 2008.

According to reports, a long-term agreement between the CFL and The Sports Network is nearly complete that would give TSN exclusive television rights that it would in turn share with CTV -- both part of the Bell Globemedia empire.

Calls to CBC yesterday about the proposed deal were met with a "no comment."

Phil King, TSN's president and CEO, would not comment on the story, either, and the network's senior publicist, Andrea Goldstein, said there would be no further statement on the alleged deal.

"We do not comment on industry speculation, nor do we discuss future program strategies," Goldstein said.

CFL director of communications Perry Lefko would confirm only that talks with TSN are ongoing.

"The CFL and TSN have been negotiating a new deal to replace the one that is set to expire at the end of next year," Lefko said.

Lefko said TSN has first right of refusal on any new television package.

The previous time a private broadcaster attempted to corral CFL rights was in the early 1960s when the federal government stepped in to force CTV to share the broadcasting duties with the state-owned CBC.

Thumbs up

The line of the week in Toronto radio has to go to the Fan 590's mid-morning host, Mike Hogan.

On Wednesday, Hogan was previewing the afternoon lineup at the all-sports radio station that would follow Hockey Central.

"Chuck Swirsky will be filling in on the Roger Lajoie Show at 1 p.m.," Hogan said dryly in reference to Swirsky's frequent afternoon absences to cover the NBA's Raptors for television.

Ouch.

Thumbs down

This column was guilty of a grievous error on Tuesday when it described a feature by Hockey Night In Canada contributor Scott Morrison as being about the death of Ottawa Senators defenceman Wade Redden's mom.

While Redden's mom did pass away from cancer last season, the story was in fact about Senators winger Chris Neil, whose mom was killed in a car crash.


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