Calgary

Hockey Night in Punjabi going off the air

A lack of funding is forcing CBC Television to cancel its Punjabi-language broadcasts of Hockey Night in Canada, the corporation says.
CBC won't be doing Punjabi broadcasts of Saturday night NHL games in the 2010-11 season. ((CBC))

A lack of funding is forcing CBC Television to cancel its Punjabi-language broadcasts of Hockey Night in Canada, the corporation says.

For the past two seasons, CBC has produced the alternative broadcasts of its Saturday night hockey games to attract viewers from Canada's one million-strong Indo-Canadian community.

But many of those new hockey fans were switching over to the English broadcast, said CBC spokesman Jeff Keay.

"I'm sure there are going to be people disappointed in this and that's unfortunate. We have to make decisions sometimes that not everyone agrees with, but I think at the end of the day, it was a successful experiment," he said.

The cancellation is surprising given how the Punjabi-speaking community has embraced the games, said Sukhpreet Singh, who created a Facebook page with 4,000 supporters for the broadcasts.

"All across Canada, the Punjabi community has latched onto this. All the generations — from grandpa to the little children — have come together to watch Canada's sport in their native language," he said.

The network might do broadcasts in Punjabi or other languages for the Stanley Cup playoffs, but during the regular season — which begins Thursday — it will be English only, Keay said.

"The challenge we have is that we have to continue to operate within our means.  I'm sure there are people who are going to be disappointed in this," he said.