We asked what CBC paid for the Olympics. Here’s what we got back:

Feb. 4, 2014 –  Global News

How much is Canada’s public broadcaster paying for the Olympics?

That information is not for public consumption.

Some figures have been thrown around before, and we already know that, after other broadcasters were shot down or bowed out, CBC paid significantly less than the $153-million CTV-Rogers’ consortium paid for the Vancouver and London Games.

But we asked anyway. Mostly out of curiosity, partly out of principle.

The freedom-of-information request was for “The total cost of buying the rights to the 2014 Olympics, including any documentation and correspondence thereof and any pertinent cost breakdowns.”

What we got back was 162 pages of redactions.

They weren’t completely blank. But save for boilerplate, they may as well have been: All specifics – not only numbers, but the most basic terms of the agreement and draft agreements – had been scrubbed. So have many of the details of emails and an internal powerpoint presentation.


The response cited several reasons for the redactions under the Information Act: trade secrets; something that could compromise a government institution’s competitive position or contract negotiations; something a third party deems confidential; ongoing consultations; and anything relating to the CBC’s “journalistic, creative or programming activities, other than information that relates to its general administration.”

We appealed: These details aren’t ongoing negotiations, nor are they considered confidential by the IOC or other broadcasters (including the CBC itself) who’ve made public what they paid. And while we’re huge proponents (and beneficiaries) of journalistic freedom, we don’t believe disclosing a public broadcaster’s Olympic price tag would trample that principle.

(Not surprising for a swamped federal information commissioner, we’re still waiting on a response several months later)

We asked CBC Tuesday why these numbers aren’t being made public.

“Because it’s competitive intelligence,” spokesperson Chuck Thompson said in an email.

The documents are embedded in their entirety below.

But here are some things we did learn:

Negotiations with the International Olympic Committee weren’t easy.


The CBC anticipated early on (in August, 2012) it’d be asked about costs.


“Olympism” is a word.


…but it’s super-secret:


It looks as though the final terms of the media rights agreement were only signed in April, 2013 – just 10 months before the Games and well after CBC’s marketing push began.


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