Could CBC have kept HNIC song?

CBC was offered a chance to continue using the HNIC theme song for the previous $500 per game fee,...

CBC was offered a chance to continue using the HNIC theme song for the previous $500 per game fee, said John Ciccone, president of Copyright Music and Visuals, which acted as the copyright administrator for the hockey theme. (REUTERS FILES)

BRIAN LILLEY, Parliamentary Bureau

, Last Updated: 7:49 AM ET

OTTAWA - CBC's loss of the iconic Hockey Night in Canada theme never had to happen and may not have been about money, sources have told QMI Agency.

The state broadcaster lost the rights to use the song, composed by Dolores Claman in 1968 and used in hockey broadcasts from that year through 2008. In June 2008 CTV announced it had purchased the rights to the song with speculation that the price tag was somewhere between $2-3 million.

A man at the centre of the affair says CBC's loss of the song never had to happen.

John Ciccone, president of Copyright Music and Visuals, which acted as the copyright administrator for the hockey theme, told QMI Agency that the CBC was offered a chance to continue using the song for the previous $500 per game fee.

"Taxpayers should also know how CBC prioritizes their expenditures," Ciccone told QMI Agency. "They did admit that the $500 per game was a fraction of what they spent on one net-cam. Judging by how loudly the country responded in June of 2008, it appears that people do care about accountability."

Ciccone says the CBC was offered a chance to buy the song for a substantial fee but denies they started a bidding war to drive up the price.

On Monday, CBC declined comment for this story.

"We said at the time that we wouldn't comment on the figures being negotiated and we won't comment on them today," said CBC spokesman Angus McKinnon.

After losing the rights to the song CBC held a competition to find a replacement paying $100,000 to the winner, but a CBC insider tells QMI Agency the total cost was much higher.

"That contest would have cost millions of dollars for CBC to run," said the current employee, who wished to remain anonymous.

The claim that the contest cost millions cannot be verified because the CBC has consistently refused all requests to release the costs of the contest through access to information inquiries.

In addition to the $100,000 winner's fee, the state broadcaster also contracted music legend Bob Rock to produce the song, consulted 400 judges, and employed Canadian music icons Kim Mitchell and Alex Lifeson of Rush to play the song alongside a full orchestra.

Currently, the broadcaster is fighting a request from the federal information commissioner to review the file to see if it does fall within specific exemptions granted to the CBC allowing it to withhold certain information.

If you have stories to tell about the CBC send them to cbctips@sunmedia.ca

brian.lilley@sunmedia.ca


Photos