'Peg stations battle for hockey broadcast rights

Paul Turenne, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:48 AM ET

So who’s going to get the chance to channel their inner Curt Keilback and call the games for Winnipeg’s new NHL team?

At this point, it’s still up for grabs.

“We’ve done (True North’s) games for the past 15 years and our intent is to keep doing them. We’ll see how it goes,” said CJOB sports director Bob Irving, referring to the station’s history of broadcasting Manitoba Moose games on the radio. “Doing NHL games would be very significant. For sure we’re going to pursue their broadcast rights.”

Irving said ‘OB’s CEO Garth Buchko has already said he likes the work Brian Munz does with the Moose games and may well present him as the station’s contender to call NHL games, should they win the broadcast rights, although nothing is set in stone yet.

Sports Radio 1290 program director Chris Brooke said his all-sports station will also likely bid for the rights to broadcast NHL games in Winnipeg, just as its sister stations do in Vancouver and Ottawa, and possibly soon in Montreal as well.

“Of course we’re interested. It’s a very exciting opportunity and one that we’re going to be very seriously looking at,” Brooke said. “We’re a 24-hour-a-day sports property so obviously it would be very significant for us.”

Brooke declined to say whom the station might choose to do play-by-play, should they score the rights.

True North president Jim Ludlow said the choice will come down to business relationships, and also economics.

“We’ve always started by saying we’re going to do everything we can to do business with those who’ve done business with us, and you can see that right now with the way we’re rolling out our season-ticket campaign. We’ll continue with that thinking. We’d like to continue with the folks that brought us here first, if we can. There are other players in town. But we’ve come this far on CJOB,” Ludlow said. “Lots of things have to work. Relationship, first, is very important. And the financial element is also critical.”

The team’s local territory TV rights will also be up for grabs, although most of the TV networks have been tight-lipped about whether they intend to bid for them.

“The thought process has (begun). The supplier pool is increasing out there, in terms of who that can be,” Ludlow said. “We’ve got a big to-do list out there, and that’s one of the first on the list.”

— With files from Paul Friesen

 


Photos