TORONTO – CBC has secured the broadcast rights to the 2018 and 2020 Olympics.
Hubert Lacroix, president of the public broadcaster, says CBC will partner with Bell Media and Rogers Media to carry the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
CBC had the broadcast rights for this year’s Sochi Olympics and will show the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The broadcaster reclaimed the rights to those Games after losing 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and the 2012 London Games to CTV.
The news comes at a tumultuous time for CBC, which is being sued by star radio personality Jian Ghomeshi, who alleges breach of confidence, bad faith and defamation by the public broadcaster in the $55-million suit. CBC severed ties with Ghomeshi over the weekend because of “information” it had received about the “Q” radio show host. Ghomeshi said he has been fired for his “sexual behaviour.”
That is just CBC’s latest problem. Last November, the broadcaster lost NHL hockey rights Rogers Media in a whopping $5.2-billion deal. That led to a dramatic loss of advertising revenue for a network already struggling with federal budget cuts.
In April, Lacroix announced that 657 jobs would be slashed to meet a $130-million budget shortfall. Lacroix said at the time that 42 per cent of the sports department would be laid off, trimming 38 sports jobs from 90 current positions.
He also announced in April the broadcaster would no longer compete for professional sports rights and would cover fewer sports events, including amateur athletics.
But the Olympics are still a product they want to be associated with, Lacroix said Tuesday.
“It’s a way for us to connect and to tell stories to Canadians from all across the country,” he said. “This ability to do this in a context with partners allows us to bring the best Olympic experience to Canadians, bar none.”
The CBC has been the official Canadian broadcaster of 20 different Olympic Games.
“I think it shows the belief that the Olympic committee has in us continuing to deliver compelling Olympic moments to Canadians,” Lacroix said of the decision.
Lacroix added the partnership with Rogers and Bell will mean more comprehensive coverage for Canadians.
“It’s a textbook example of us being able to bring the whole broadcasting community to the service of Canadians,” he said. “If it had not been for open-mindedness and eagerness and interest of our friends at Bell and Rogers, Canadians would not be getting the kind of coverage that they will be in ’18 and ’20.”