Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The gang that couldn’t shoot straight, Part II

The twists and turns that this story takes! It was reported yesterday (on the front pages of the Globe and Mail and National Post, no less) that CTV had stepped up to the plate, so to speak, and bought the rights to the Hockey Night in Canada theme song, reportedly for $2.5 - $3.0 million. The deal struck with Ms. Dolores Claman gives CTV the rights to use the theme song “in perpetuity” for their TSN and RDS broadcasts. It was also reported that CTV had, just days earlier, reached agreement with the NHL on a six-year deal to broadcast 70 NHL games per season on TSN.

So, you might ask, just how much was the CBC paying Ms. Claman for the use of her theme song on HNIC broadcasts? It was also reported that the CBC was paying $500 each time the theme song was played, as well as “other undisclosed fees”. Over an 85 game HNIC schedule and assuming that the theme is played twice per game, that works out to be $85,000 per year! Peanuts, you might say!

What if the CBC had decided to buy the rights to the theme song, as CTV has done, “in perpetuity”? How much should they have been willing to pay? At the paltry sum of $500 per use, over an 85 game season for 100 years, and assuming that Ms. Claman (who I presume is a retiree) would be happy earning the 30-year T-Bill rate of interest (currently 4.17%), the present value of this 100-year income stream is approximately $2 million.

Now, I have no way of knowing whether this would have been acceptable to Ms. Claman – perhaps she considered $500 per use of the theme song much too low – but it seems that the CBC missed out on a golden opportunity to secure the rights to the much-beloved HNIC theme song at a perfectly reasonable price. Instead, CTV put a move on the CBC that left the CBC standing at the blue line with their shorts around their ankles. Good on yer, CTV!

I realize that the last two blog entries have been somewhat off-topic, given that this blog is devoted to protesting the demise of classical music on CBC Radio Two, but is there any better illustration of the mismanagement of the CBC than this most recent fiasco?


Adrian said...

Should you not already have seen the blog posting of Dolores Claman's daughter, it shines more light on the subject @

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Hockey Theme

I just wanted to thank you, on behalf of my mother, for your support of the hockey theme. I also wanted you to know my side of the story, because it's important to me. What I hope you will acknowledge is that the CBC has had an exclusive media platform on which to air its side of the story.

First, to clear up some misconceptions. For 25 years, CBC paid my mother no license fees at all for the music. It was only in the last 15 years that they began to pay any license fee at all.

Last week, after more than a year of CBC bullying, threatening and endless changing of positions, we offered the CBC the following deal: forget the lawsuit - just pay our legal fees (which we incurred because of CBC's breach of usage as agreed in the license deal) and let's keep the same licensing deal as before. That's it...same as before. $500 per episode of HNIC. They did not accept.

They kept bullying us, telling us the song was worthless, threatening to drop the song altogether if we didn't give them exactly what they wanted, absolutely on their terms. If not, they'd hold a national contest and replace the song. Honestly, it became increasingly clear to us that this was their plan all along - to offer deals that were impossible for us to accept, so they would have the excuse to drop the song without being blamed for doing it. On Thursday, they sent us an email rejecting the offer and saying that it was sad we could not come to an agreement.

Then on Friday, Scott Moore of the CBC announced the Song Contest to replace the theme. So, it was clear, for sure, that this was over for us.

My belief is that when it started to become clear to the CBC that the public wasn't happy with their decision, they announced that they would negotiate further. Frankly, my mother was so depressed, she just said - no, they don't really want the song. It's better at least if it dies a dignified death.

When CTV made an offer, they promised that they'd use the song, and they'd use it in association with Canadian hockey. Of all the things, this mattered most to my mother.

I know you are probably upset that we didn't resolve our differences with the CBC, but no matter what they say publicly, they really, clearly, didn't give a shit about the theme. Their only concern was they should not be seen to be the villains in getting rid of it. My mother became a very convenient scapegoat.

To a composer, their music is like their baby - they don't want to see it buried, or forgotten, or sidelined. And my mother, being a rather strong woman, just wasn't willing to be bullied and threatened any more. A lot of people are going to call her greedy and opportunistic. Well, they just don't know her at all. It's going to sound trite if I say that "it wasn't about the money". But ask any composer of music if they want to see their work buried, and never played again. It's easy to focus on the money. But it was never, ever about the money. Life, and people, are just a lot more complex than that.

That's my side of the story, for what it's worth.

Madeleine Morris

James Wooten said...

Hi Adrian,

Thanks for sending this to me. I had not seen it, but it reveals much about the CBC and how they operate. It seems that the CBC is willing to ignore the opinions and rights of their audience as well as the interests of the composer of this theme song, Ms. Dolores Claman, in the pursuit of their own agenda (whatever that may be).