After cancelling Hockey Night in Canada in Punjabi in October, Ishani Nath reports that support from the Punjabi community has resurrected the broadcast for the second straight year.
CBC benched Hockey Night in Canada's Punjabi edition in October, but vehement support from the Punjabi community have put the broadcast back in the game.
Beginning Dec. 10, Hockey Night in Canada will be broadcast in Punjabi on digital cable and online every Saturday for the remainder of the season with continuous coverage during the playoff season.
“We’re thrilled to bring back our Punjabi broadcasts,” says CBC’s spokesperson Julie Bristow in a press release today. “Hockey is such a large part of our country’s culture and we’re very happy to continue to offer our national sport to even more of Canada’s diverse population on its biggest stage each week.”
The broadcast originally began as an experiment during the 2008 playoffs and is returning with official sponsorship support from Chevrolet Canada.
But broadcasters and sponsors aren’t the only ones supporting the lively Punjabi-language commentary.
When news of the show’s cancellation broke in October, it prompted an immediate response from the Punjabi community, according to host Harnarayan Singh.
“People didn’t ask why it got cancelled,” the CBC broadcaster says. “The questions right away were: How do we get this back?”
And this proactive support is nothing new for the Punjabi-language broadcast.
“When people can listen to a national sports broadcast in their own language it creates a feeling of great pride in being Canadian and I think that’s very important to keep,” says Balwant Sanghera, president of the Punjabi Language Education Association.
The CBC first cancelled the program in October 2010 due to a lack of funding, but the massive reaction from the Punjabi community put the broadcast back on the air by December.
The cancellation and ensuing reinstatement of this year left fans with a sense of déjà-vu.
“We were very pleased to have it back and now when they cut if off again, that was a big disappointment,” Sanghera says.
Sanghera was one of many community leaders involved with rallying the Punjabi community in both 2010 and again in 2011 to ensure that the program remained on the air.
“They do this every season, it gets cancelled and then they realize that there is a lot of support and they bring it back,” says Sukhpreet Singh, the creator of its official Facebook fan group of nearly 4,000 members. “We’re behind this 100 per cent.”
Though exact results were unavailable, Sanghera says that 4,500 supporters from across Canada signed online petitions in 2010 in addition to the numerous individuals who called in to CBC to voice their passion for the program.