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Ron MacLean (left) and Don Cherry on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada.

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Internal memo from Hubert Lacroix, chief executive officer of CBC:

Hello,

A day of mixed emotions for sure.  Today, the NHL announced that they have chosen Rogers as the exclusive rights holders for NHL hockey in Canada going forward.

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While this isn't the outcome we had hoped for, I'm pleased to say that through an agreement with Rogers, CBC will retain HNIC on Saturday nights, including 320 hours of prime-time hockey and the Stanley Cup Final for the next four years.

This may not be the ideal scenario but, it is the right outcome for Canadian hockey fans and is an acceptable adaptation to the role of the public broadcaster in the modern world of professional sports rights.  A world in which partnering with a wide array of other actors is a key to success.

A little bit about our deal with Rogers. CBC pays no rights costs for the broadcasting of hockey games.  Rogers is bearing the sole risk around hockey revenues; (they sell the inventory and keep the revenue – the overall selling process is yet to be defined), while we continue to make Canada's game available to all Canadians wherever they live.

It also provides us with a high-traffic place to promote all of our other fantastic Canadian content during a broadcast that brings the nation together week after week.

I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the remarkable HNIC technical team at CBC, you are hands down the best in the business and I'm glad your hard work and talents will continue to be shared with Canadians through our new deal with Rogers.  However, starting next year, Rogers will assume all editorial control (all editorial decisions with respect to the content, on-air talent and the creative direction of HNIC – we have the right to be consulted and there is a commitment to excellence) under the new agreement.

These negotiations were not easy. We had been in conversation with the league for a number of months to secure these rights ourselves; the CBC was prepared to do a fiscally responsible deal to preserve hockey on Saturday nights and to help the NHL to build the hockey brand through a variety of significant events and outreach activities.  The NHL chose a deal with only one broadcaster – that's their choice and that's their prerogative.

I want to personally thank the negotiating team of Neil McEneaney and Jeffrey Orridge who for months have poured so much smarts and passion into trying to make the best deal happen with the NHL, and for going the extra mile in securing our agreement with Rogers over the last few days (and nights) – thank you.

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So, what does this mean for the CBC going forward?   While this deal will result in job losses, the staffing impact would have been much greater had we lost hockey entirely, as CBC is still producing hockey.  Preserving HNIC also allows CBC to maintain a capacity to execute a sports strategy and fulfillits existing contractual obligations (i.e. Olympics, Pan-Am, FIFA)

You probably have a lot of questions.  There are still a lot of details to work out, but we'll try to answer some of your questions later today at a town hall meeting at 1:30pm (details below).  I hope you will take the time to join me, Neil McEneaney, Jeffrey Orridge and the rest of the team to give you a little more detail about the new deal with Rogers, and what the impact will be on CBC both now and in the future....

Hubert

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