The strange story of Montreal Canadiens radio announcer Dino Sisto took another twist yesterday when he was fired by CJAD.
"Im frazzled," Sisto said, confirming his dismissal.
Sisto's lawyer, Daniel Lighter of Montreal, said his client will file a wrongful dismissal suit against CJAD this morning.
No return calls were received from CJAD general manager and vice-president Rob Braide and program director Rick Moffat.
Sisto was removed from the Habs' broadcasts in April during the National Hockey League playoffs. According to Lighter, Sisto was suspended by the radio station because of harassment complaints from a woman who works as a hostess at the Bell Centre, the Canadiens' home arena. During the past season, the woman complained about being bothered by Sisto, said Lighter, who disputes the allegations.
"I think she . . . just didn't want him around," Lighter said. "So, she began a sort of a quiet campaign. The most she was spinning was vague harassment, which at best was being a pest.
"What Dino would say was he wanted to know what was going on. She was making him out to be a lunatic and nobody was listening to him."
Lighter said the woman attempted to have criminal charges of harassment brought against Sisto, but the Crown decided there were no grounds.
After Sisto was suspended by CJAD, he took a lie detector test, Lighter said, and passed "with a very high score with a leading lie detector in the province of Quebec." After it was decided there were no grounds for criminal charges, Sisto returned to CJAD three weeks ago to work as a sportscaster. Lighter said the club contacted CJAD this week. Sisto was subsequently fired.
There may be a lawsuit in addition to the wrongful dismissal action.
"Whether he pursues civil recourse against CJAD, the Canadiens and [the woman] he's certainly looking at all avenues," Lighter said.
TSN on the ball
Soccer fans feel they deserve good television. They grumble when a game is called from a studio instead of the stadium. A telecast carried on tape delay incites angry telephone calls.
But there should be no complaints about TSN's Euro 2004 coverage. Most of the games are live and the few that are not available on TSN are being carried by a digital channel, Fox Sports World Canada. All telecasts are repeated by TSN in prime time.
The studio panel, consisting of host Vic Rauter and analysts Dick Howard and Carl Fletcher, is setting the stage effectively and providing good information.
Fletcher, a former national team member, is new to broadcasting and probably too nice a guy to have a future in the business, which is to say he's unassuming and modest, although he's becoming more assertive as the tournament progresses. Yesterday, he was actually able to speak several words before he was interrupted.
If there's a weakness to the panel, it is the commentators' assumption that the viewer knows everything. They discuss strategies and players "coming in from the back," without simplifying or clarifying the message. Yesterday, they consistently referred to Group D as "the group of death" without explaining the name. (Three of the four countries in the group -- Germany, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic -- are contenders.)
In Canada, TSN is on basic cable, which means most of us are able to watch Euro 2004.
Consider the shabby service offered to Americans. Fox Sports World, a tiered specialty channel, is airing only five Euro games. To watch the remainder, the consumer needs to fork over $179 (U.S.) for a pay-per-view package. Never mind that the event ranks third among sports spectacles in the world after the Olympics and World Cup. The absence of an American team makes it marginal to U.S. television.
Worldwide, the TV audiences have been huge. An estimated 200 million watched the opener on Saturday (Greece-Portugal). Soccer's European governing body anticipates seven billion tuning in over the course of the event.
In Britain, 20.7 million watched France defeat England on Sunday, a figure that's comparable with the 10 million who tuned into the CBC for Canada's gold medal victory over the United States at the 2002 Olympic hockey tournament. TSN drew 485,000 for France-England, which was its best figure for a preliminary round of the European tournament.