July 20, 2011
Big hire at Quebecor's new sports channel
By QMI Agency
MONTREAL -- Quebecor Media is loading up on big guns as it prepares to launch its new French sports channel.
TVA Sports will debut in September and Quebecor announced Wednesday that it has hired influential columnist Rejean Tremblay, one of Canada's longest-serving and most decorated sports journalists.
Tremblay previously spent 35 years at Montreal's La Presse newspaper, where he covered hockey, the Olympics, Formula 1 racing and major tennis tournaments.
He'll offer commentary when TVA Sports launches in September with the goal of unseating Bell's RDS channel as the top choice for sports fans on the French side of the dial.
"I was happy at La Presse," Tremblay said, "but I had the impression that I could be even happier."
Then, in his trademark no-holds-barred style, he added, "what's more, if there was a bit of money that came with it, that's great."
Aside from his on-air duties, Tremblay will help to develop dramatic series for TVA, Quebecor's French-language broadcast arm.
Tremblay moonlights as a screenwriter, having penned scripts for the 1980s CBC hockey drama He Shoots, He Scores as well as the 1990s newsroom series Scoop, which aired on TVA.
Ever the busy man, Tremblay will also resume his renowned sports column in Le Journal de Montreal and Le Journal de Quebec next spring.
TVA Sports has already snagged major properties, including the rights to air 25 Ottawa Senators games per season. It will also broadcast 60 Toronto Blue Jays games and recently acquired the broadcast rights to the Montreal Impact, who are joining Major League Soccer next season.
As well, in a deal with Montreal-based InterBox, TVA Sports will air major fights, including those featuring undefeated Canadian superstar Lucian Bute, one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
But the jewel in the crown might be yet to come.
Quebecor CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau has purchased naming and management rights to a proposed $400 million arena in Quebec City that would be the first step to the return of NHL hockey to the provincial capital.
If an expansion franchise is not available, Quebecor would look at moving a team to Quebec City to replace the Nordiques, who bolted for Colorado in 1995.
"We never hid the fact that we want the Quebec Nordiques to come back," said Pierre Dion, CEO of the TVA Group.
It's all part of a bullish expansion effort by Peladeau, who has now created three major divisions in just two years.
The QMI news agency launched in 2009 and Sun News Network hit the airwaves across Canada this past April.
Quebecor has launched seven specialty channels in the last seven years and Peladeau says "that's just the beginning."