Out of fear of losing you, I will skip to the end of the story first. To have the best chance of winning your fantasy hockey pool you need to have access to the best information. This includes watching as many different games as possible so you can evaluate talent, see opportunities and stay one step ahead of your competition. Not everyone should have to purchase time-shifting, shell out for a PVR or subscribe to the NHL Centre Ice Package to have access to a balanced NHL schedule.
A few weeks back, at the Board of Governors meeting with the CBC, Ottawa and Vancouver complained about their lack of coverage. A fellow fan and myself began looking into the truth behind this. To do this we developed a chart. Being based in Ottawa we captured what was available in this area. The limitation of the chart is that it doesnít show whoís on the national network. Ottawa appears to has a lot of exposure, but itís only being shown regionally. We expect the national breakdown to have similar regional biases. Looking at all the appearances of Canadian teams on Hockey Night in Canada this year, we expected to find a 'high exposure' group of Toronto, Montreal and one team from the West, the a sudden drop off to everyone else. But what I actually saw was this:
It's actually not a Saturday Hockey Night in Canada without the Habs playing! Of course Toronto is second. Right there you have two of the most fantasy deficient teams in the league every week for your viewing pleasure.
Now, considering that Ottawa is small market team, who many considered would finish out of the playoffs, their appearances (19) is fairly reasonable compared to Toronto's 24 albeit higher than Vancouver's 15. A team coming off one of the most exciting Stanley Cup finals (Vancouver), a rebuilding team that is being dubbed one of the most offensively talented teams in recent memory (Edmonton) and the team with one of Canadaís biggest stars (Calgary) deserve better. Will Winnipeg continue to fair well once the lustre has worn off their return?
I think it's obvious that there is currently some amount of bias in the scheduling, but not following the patterns people talk about. However, I as a hockey fan feel left out. I think if Calgary is on an Eastern road trip their game should take precedence. For two reasons, so fans in the East can see a team play without staying up all night and to give equal a fair balance to all Canadian hockey teams.
Not to bore you, but here is an expert from the 1991 Broadcasting Act that spells out the mandate of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as the national public broadcaster, should provide radio and television services incorporating a wide range of programming that informs, enlightens and entertains; ...the programming provided by the Corporation should:
- reflect Canada and its regions to national and regional audiences, while serving the special needs of those regions,
- contribute to shared national consciousness and identity,
- be made available throughout Canada by the most appropriate and efficient means and as resources become available for the purpose.
Now if the CBCís mandate is a national overview of regional content this surely is a misfire. If it's tax-payer subsidized, then coverage should not be a function of size of city or fan-base. If tax dollars are going towards supporting culture, then they should support all teams equally. I see how people could argue against that and in favour of a size-weighting based on the most popular teams. However, there's no reason public dollars should disproportionately be helping richer organizations.
So letís see what last weekís budget means for the CBC. $119 million in cuts wonít sink the CBC, but it will force it to compete even harder with the CTV and Global TVs of the world. Not to mention the myriad of radio stations, but for this argument we will stick to television.
I am sure many of you reading this will immediately refer to Economics 101 and claim that competition is good for any industry. Normally, Iíd be inclined to agree, but when it comes to educational broadcasting, I donít believe it is always true. The CBC should be reflecting Canada accurately and that will not always bring in the rating needed to fight conglomerates that arenít working toward the same goal.
I understand I am not an average hockey fan, but if hockey is ďour gameĒ we should be interested in hockey being played across the globe. I would love to see an early CBC game that showed the Panthers versus the Devils in November. It is ďour gameĒ, no? The majority of the players are Canadian, no? However, with cuts like we saw last week it wonít be happening anytime soon. I personally believe hockey fans in Canada arenít as engaged across the whole of their sport than fans of baseball, football and basketball. Is it because CBC only plays games involving the most popular franchises or is it because Canadians will only watch games involving two specific teams? You can blame in on the chicken or the egg.
Whatever it is, if you want to win your hockey pool, you canít settle for second-class information. If we force the CBC to compete with big TV networks, you will get nothing less on your TVs on Saturday nights.
What is your take? What would you like to see more or less of on Hockey Night in Canada?