CFL: Can't Find Location

CRASH CAMERON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:48 AM ET

Be careful what you ask for!

Fans of the Edmonton Eskimos were upset recently when TSN -- having already committed to golf's Ryder Cup tournament -- bumped last Sunday's game in Montreal against the Alouettes to the brand-new TSN2.

It's just part of an ever-changing broadcast landscape, but availability was the issue, since TSN2 requires upping your cable package or getting Bell satellite. Or else, hoping the stream on TSN.ca didn't turn into a trickle.

In a solid PR move, the local cable distributor (Shaw) made a deal to show the game on basic in the Edmonton area, on the low-number channel they use to loop their TV guide.

So, Eskimos fans did get to see the game, after all. How many were still tuned in by the fourth quarter of the 40-4 smackdown is another question.

- Once upon a time, moving the entire CFL broadcast schedule to a cable network such as TSN would have caused a similar uproar. In particular, it would have been bad news for rural fans, of which there are still plenty for a little ol' league like the CFL that can't afford to ignore its grassroots.

(Think Saskatchewan and the Roughriders.) Of course, almost anywhere can get cable or satellite now, but the league still has to deal with the sticky situation of blackouts. Yes, putting butts in the seats is a bottom line for an enterprise that can quickly face bottoms-up, but isn't reaching living rooms just as important in the long run? Wasn't this a lesson learned in the dark ages of the 1980s when the league de-marketed itself into near oblivion? A generation of potential die-hards were easily drawn in by the football monster to the south, only to become NFL fans, instead. (And become Pro-Line die-hards. But that's another story.)

So you've got the Hall of Fame Game with a notable lineup of inductees -- not to mention a posthumous tribute to a genuine CFL legend, who not long ago coached a Tiger-Cats team to a Grey Cup win, then settled in the area -- and it's blacked-out in the Hamilton area?

- As for Ronnie Lancaster -- yes it is the norm to speak of the recently deceased in a positive light, but no one was exaggerating in regard to his excellence in the broadcast booth. I'd say, all-round -- information, presentation, honesty, humour, etc. -- maybe the best football analyst ever.

John Madden? Don't even go there. His first 10 years, maybe, but he has been singing the same song over and over since then.

- Other broadcasters are upset with the launching of TSN2, claiming misuse of what a channel can be used for.

Maybe they are angry that they just don't have the capacity to do it first.

It would seem to me very unlikely the CRTC could make a concrete ruling about this. CRTC "regulations" have been a floating target for years now.

Look at all the channels that began as "education stations" that now show movies and prime-time U.S. network shows.

Or music channels that rarely have any actual music.

It's kind of like Major League Baseball and steroids, where the governing body tries to sweep the dirt under the rug so it gets lost among the dust and dirt already under there.


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