People walk to attend an event to start the 1000-day countdown to the opening of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi in Red Square in Moscow May 14, 2011.
Credits: REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov
OTTAWA -- The CBC refused Wednesday to say how big a slice of its $1.2-billion taxpayer handout it's spending to broadcast the 2014 Winter and 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
The state broadcaster won the rights to broadcast the two games after the International Olympic Committee rejected two earlier bids made in partnership with a private network to share the costs. That partnership dissolved after the IOC's price tag was deemed too high.
The CBC then made a bid on its own, presumably a higher amount than the $153-million Bell-led CTV-Rogers paid to broadcast the 2010 and 2012 games.
The decision to award the Canadian rights to the CBC raises questions about how level the playing field is between the taxpayer-funded broadcaster and private broadcasters.
"It's not a level playing field because the CBC gets more than a billion of taxpayer dollars while everyone else has to make it on their own," Greg Thomas, director of the Canadian Taxpayer Federation, told QMI Agency.
"We're seeing the CBC rushing to where others fear to tread. The Olympics have been a super disappointment as far as the ad revenue broadcasters are able to charge. Other broadcasters have had to back down because it's such a money loser."
Neither the CBC nor the IOC would disclose the cost of those broadcasting rights. But CBC president Hubert Lacroix told the CBC it was a "very financially and fiscally responsible bid because that was our major concern."
Another concern may be the fact the National Hockey League has not yet decided whether it will interrupt its regular season and release players for the Olympic hockey tournament, which draws the highest ratings by far.