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Record $153 million paid for broadcast rights

Local radio station will change its tune now that parent company has won rights to broadcast 2010 Winter Olympics



Mountain FM will have a new sound as the 2010 Winter Olympic Games approach.

No longer will it continuously play musical hits of the ’80s, ’90s and today, rather it will be airing stories about athletes hitting the slopes, Games spectators hitting the Sea to Sky corridor, and locals finding their way around the event.

The proposed change follows the awarding of Canadian TV, radio and Internet rights for the 2010 and 2012 Olympic Games to Bell Globemedia, in partnership with Rogers Communications, earlier this week in Lausanne, Switzerland.

"The general approach will be that the seven (radio) stations from Vancouver up to Whistler, for the period of the Games and a period of time before the Games, will have their programming focused around the Olympics," said Tony Viner, president and CEO of Rogers Media from Switzerland.

"… Does that mean they might move away from a music format? Potentially.

"It really is a no brainer that if you have radio stations in the middle of the Olympic activity they are going to be Olympic radio stations."

Rogers owns Mountain FM and several other stations in the Lower Mainland, including Jack FM, CKWX 1130, Clear FM and Star FM.

Paul Fisher, vice-president of Rogers Vancouver said all the stations would be working to reflect what their communities need to know while Vancouver and Whistler are hosting the 2010 Games.

"We will adjust our programming to suit the needs of the whole Vancouver community as well as Squamish and Whistler," he said.

"We don’t see this as a change in format because Mountain is a community station. So all we are doing is enhancing some of the community coverage."

The Bell Globemedia bid of US $153 million ended the CBC’s 12-year run – from Atlanta in 1996 through Beijing in 2008 – as Canadian Olympic broadcaster.

"We’re very disappointed, no question," Nancy Lee, head of CBC Sports, was reported as saying.

"We think we put in a great bid. We worked long on it. It was a good bid. We couldn't have worked harder on it and we were just clearly outbid on it."

While CBC has released no set figure it’s believed their bid came in at between US$90 and $100 million.

Part of the attraction of the Bell Globemedia-Rogers partnership was the array of broadcast options it presented the IOC. Bell Globemedia owns the CTV Network, TSN, the French station RDS, CTV NewsNet and Outdoor Life Network. Rogers has the Sportsnet channels, two multi-cultural TV stations and a network of radio stations.