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Dolores Claman's song had been used on Hockey Night in Canada since 1968.

CTV Inc. has acquired the rights to The Hockey Theme in perpetuity, the network announced Monday.

The agreement was reached with Copyright Music & Visuals, which was unable to renew a deal with CBC Sports.

CBC Sports executive director Scott Moore said he was disappointed but not surprised the song was shopped elsewhere.

"The two sides were so far apart and there was so much bad blood that we knew a deal would be difficult," he said. "The reality is it takes two sides to do a deal and we tried everything we could to do a deal.

"We offered arbitration, mediation — we offered to meet their price. On Friday, when it came right down to it, we never got a response from them on our latest offer and find out, in the meantime, they appeared to be negotiating with CTV."

Moore said CBC had negotiated for 14 months but to no avail, and that the agency was asking for $2.5 million to $3 million for use in perpetuity.

"If they got that from CTV, we would never have been able to get there," Moore told CBC Newsworld. "It is not a responsible price for us.

"If that is the price CTV wants to pay, it won't be the first time nor will it be the last time, probably, that they outbid us for something. They have a lot more profits than we do."

The song had been used on Hockey Night in Canada since 1968.

"Hockey is a game, it's not a song," Moore said. "We have the No. 1 sports property in Canada.

"I don't expect one less viewer to tune in on Saturday to watch Hockey Night in Canada. They will continue to watch their favourite team."

According to a release, CTV said it agreed to a deal with Copyright Music & Visuals after Friday's deadline with CBC passed.

The agency represents the song's composer, Dolores Claman, who was born in Vancouver.

"The song has a long and storied history in Canadian sports, and has become ingrained in the hearts and minds of hockey fans across the country. It is an iconic tune, embraced by Canadians everywhere, and we felt it was imperative to save it," said Rick Brace of CTV Inc.

Moore said he was surprised a rival network would purchase something so inextricably linked to the Hockey Night brand.

"It's a constant commercial for our network," he said.

Lawsuit complicated negotiations

Earlier on Monday, CBC Sports had said it planned to bring in noted sports and entertainment lawyer Gord Kirke in a last-ditch effort to bring about a mediated resolution.

Complicating the bid for a settlement was an outstanding lawsuit filed against the CBC in late 2004 surrounding its use for ringtones and downloads.

Moore said CBC wanted to resolve that issue along with the song's future use, but that representatives for Claman wanted to keep them separate.

Claman, 80, has written about 2,000 jingles over her career, including the Ontario theme A Place to Stand, which she co-wrote with her husband, Richard Morris.

"I am very moved by how so many Canadians have taken the hockey theme to heart. We are so pleased the song has found a new home," said Claman, who now resides in Britain.

Before Kirke's involvement was announced, CBC Sports announced plans to launch a new national contest in conjunction with Nettwerk Music Group to find a new theme song.

Canadians will be invited to write and record an original song for Hockey Night in Canada, with fans and a jury of experts to choose the best new composition.

"I think it'll help us get a new demographic," Moore said. "The theme that we had was a great theme. [But] it was 39 years old. Maybe it's time for something else."

The son of Stompin' Tom Connors said Monday his father is open to licensing his famed hockey song to CBC as a replacement.

"If they want to use The Hockey Song, it's a good song, whether Tom sings it or not," Tom Connors Jr. said. "There's other versions out there.

"Even if they wanted to commission some other band, like a big [name] band if they wanted to do more of a Hockey Night theme, everything is open for negotiations, of course. That's the business we're in."

With files from the Canadian Press