CRTC okays all sports channel for SRC

Sports television market in Quebec gets more competitive with all eyes on Canadiens games

The race to broadcast French-language Montreal Canadiens games in hockey crazed Quebec just got a bit tighter.

A few months after the CRTC told Quebecor it could launch a French-language all-sports network, the federal broadcast regulator has surprised observers and also greenlit a Radio-Canada all sports channel.

The question on everyone’s minds is which network will get the chance to broadcast lucrative Canadiens games once specialty channel RDS’ exclusive contract is up at the end of 2013?

Radio-Canada, whose audience share hovers at around 15%, was hit hard in 2003 after the beloved hockey team reached its broadcast deal with RDS. SRC’s Hockey Night in Canada was the longest running, and one of the most popular programs in the province. RDS is owned by CTVglobemedia.

Quebecor, which in February received a license for an all sports network, TVA Sports, told the CRTC it also wants to broadcast National Hockey League games.

In its decision the CRTC said Radio-Canada’s sports channel should favor Canadian professional sports as well amateur as sports that are ‘under represented,’ on the airwaves.

Radio-Canada’s sports channel license ends on Aug. 31, 2016. No official launch date for the network has been set.