Sister net Radio-Canada gets French-language rights

MONTREAL — Canuck pubcaster CBC has snared all rights to the 2010 and 2014 World Cup soccer tournaments for a reported C$25 million ($22.3 million), it was announced Friday.

French sister network Radio-Canada Television gets French-language rights in Canada as part of the deal with international soccer body FIFA.

CBC outbid the Bell Globemedia/Rogers consortium that aired the 2006 tourney, held in Germany, for the rights for all platforms, including its eight national radio and TV networks, Web sites, regional stations and affiliates, mobile devices and video-on-demand.

The deal comes after record Canuck ratings for this summer’s tourney, a surprise in the traditionally hockey-mad country.

It is unclear how CBC will schedule the World Cup’s 64 games as it does not own a sports specialty channel, although it could air games on its all-news web Newsworld, or sell off some rights to defray costs.

Bell Globemedia and Rogers split the 2006 rights — Bell Globemedia owns the TSN and RDS sports channels and Rogers aired the games on Rogers Sportsnet.

It is bound to be a controversial move in Canada where the pubcaster is often criticized for remaining in the big-ticket commercial sports business, rather than leaving this to private webs.

CBC controls all rights to National Hockey League broadcast action in Canada, a major profit driver for the pubcaster.

“Soccer is one of the most popular sports in Canada, both to watch and to play. As Canada’s national public broadcaster, CBC/Radio-Canada is in the best position to bring high-quality coverage of FIFA championship events to the broadest possible audience,” said CBC president Robert Rabinovitch.

The agreement also includes Canadian rights to the Men’s Under-20 World Cup taking place in Canada next year, the Women’s World Cup in China in 2007 and the Women’s World Cup in 2011.

CBC said Telelatino, a multicultural station with national distribution, will act as its broadcast partner.

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