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Old 06-10-2008, 11:29 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default HNIC theme - National Treasure Or Just A Song?


CTV's going to be calling the tune now after composer sells Hockey Night song

June 10, 2008

Like Jennifer Aniston's marriage to Brad Pitt, the relationship between the CBC and Hockey Night in Canada song composer Dolores Claman had problems known to a handful of insiders - fights over money, hurt feelings, a suitor in the wings.

And yesterday, the relationship ended not unlike Ms. Aniston's when the rival CTV network, playing the Angelina Jolie role, swept in to take away Ms. Claman and her song, the iconic dunt-da-DUNT-da-dunt that Canadians have heard for the past 40 years.

"We think it's a tremendous coup," said CTV executive Rick Brace. "This is the hockey anthem."

The stunning business deal, which gives CTV perpetual rights to Ms. Claman's song, marks the end of a bitter backroom feud between the composer and the CBC, which has used the tune on its Hockey Night in Canada broadcast since 1968. Although it has simmered for years, the public learned of the battle only last week, when the CBC announced that it would hold a national contest to choose a new song after failing to come to terms with Ms. Claman.

"We made [what] we consider a fair and respectful offer," CBC executive Scott Moore said. "You have to ask the other side what happened."

Although neither side will disclose how much Ms. Claman's deal with CTV is worth, Mr. Moore said yesterday that the composer had been seeking $2.5-million. (The CBC had reportedly been paying about $500 per broadcast to use the song, and had offered to buy it for an amount "in the high six figures.") Although thousands signed online petitions urging the CBC to keep the song, declaring it a "national treasure" and "Canada's second anthem," Mr. Moore said there were limits to how much the public broadcaster was willing to pay: "What Hockey Night in Canada is really about is hockey," he said. "Everything else is just window dressing."

Although the impact of the deal on the respective networks will not be known for some time, hockey insiders saw CTV as the early winner: "The CBC played chicken and they lost," said one.

CTV's deal-making machinery slipped into gear last Friday afternoon, just moments after the CBC announced that it couldn't make a deal with Ms. Claman. By midnight, CTV executives had reached a verbal agreement with her Toronto agent, John Ciccone of Copyright Music and Visuals. Lawyers drafted agreements over the weekend. They were signed yesterday.

Mr. Brace of CTV said he isn't concerned about a backlash from fans who might perceive him as an interloper who swept in and stole away Ms. Claman and her song from the CBC as their relationship problems played out in the national media: "Just the opposite," he said. "There was a divorce on the table."

Mr. Brace said CTV didn't make any overtures until the CBC announced that it had reached the end of the road with Ms. Claman: "This wasn't poaching. Quite the opposite. This song was dead, and we in fact saved the thing. It would be gone. It would be in an archive somewhere."

Mr. Brace said CTV plans to use the song in several ways. Its most prominent role will be as the theme song for scheduled hockey broadcasts on TSN, which covers about 70 games a season. It will also be featured on CTV's hockey coverage at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Mr. Brace said it's "highly unlikely" that the song would be used in connection with any other sports. "This is the hockey song. It will play the same role here as it did there. It just has a new home."

Although money was important, insiders said the deciding factor in the battle between Ms. Claman and the CBC was emotion - years of wrangling about the song and its value had angered Ms. Claman. "She was hurt," said Ms. Claman's agent. "She loves the song. It's very close to her heart. It's like her baby."

Ms. Claman, now 80 and living in London, England, composed the song in 1968 and licensed it to the CBC for Hockey Night in Canada. Ms. Claman, a commercial jingle writer, retained the copyright. The first real signs of trouble came in 2002, when Ms. Claman protested about some of the ways that CBC was using her song. Two years later, in 2004, she sued the broadcaster, asking for $2.5-million in damages. The lawsuit is still before the courts.

Mr. Brace said he was looking forward to hearing the song on his network when the new hockey season gets under way: "This song is part of the fabric of the country," he said. "It's absolute Canadiana."
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