Rocks and a hard place

ANGELA MacISAAC -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:00 AM ET

Can't Broadcast Curling.

It's not likely a handle the CBC would appreciate but it's an acronym created by one poster at curlingzone.com.

The Internet discussion board has been filled with complaints by curling fans left irate by the national network's curling coverage.

Potshots are being fired at Canadian Curling Association (CCA) executive members, CBC commentators and curling sponsors.

Warren Hansen, CCA manager of event operations and media, is tired of the e-mails, the threats, the petitions and so on.

"I'm getting hung out to dry from coast to coast in this country for something I had nothing to do with," Hansen tells the Edmonton Sun.

"Enough. I'm not defending this more. I'm tired of being called a moron and an idiot for something I didn't have anything to do with."

Gerry Geurts of London,Ont., who operates the website with Calgary's Dallas Bittle, said CBC and CCA shouldn't have been surprised by the anger that has been building since the TSN-CBC bidding war was decided in July.

"People are hard to change," Geurts said."TSN built curling. It wasn't even really a TV sport then."

The CCA wanted to change direction, letting CBC win the broadcast bidding wars. TSN had been airing curling for 20 years, allowing CBC to show the finals of both the men's and women's national championships, but wanted a six-year deal of exclusive coverage.

Geurts said he knew that wasn't the way to go but neither is CBC's intent to carry only one major draw a day, while farming the prime-time draw to its digital cable network, Country Canada.

Last week's Scott Tournament of Hearts introduced Canada to the new regime --and fans didn't like it.

Albertans had to have a TV at the office if they wanted to see the 'afternoon' draw at 10:30 a.m. (the event was in St. John's, Nfld., 3 1/2 hours ahead of us). The night draw, which started at 4:30 p.m. MST, was on Country Canada with two nights farmed out to The Score.

Hansen abdicated responsibility for the deal.

"I'm getting a whole pile of e-mails sent to me personally. Some of it is pretty ugly," he said. "I had nothing to do with the TV contract talks or any part of negotiating it. Dave Parkes and the board did all this."

The CCA held a news conference last week to acknowledge the numerous complaints but pointed out there are no plans to change anything for the Tim Hortons Brier, which starts Saturday in Edmonton, Hansen's hometown.

Status quo is a bad idea, Geurts said.

"The least they need to do is get all the prime-time games on The Score," he said.

All the same, the CBC happily reported yesterday the Scott final drew 911,000 viewers, a 23% increase over last year.

It didn't stop some from calling for a boycott of long-time sponsors. Geurts wasn't about to jump on board that train, though.

"That's absolutely ridiculous," he said. "It's like cutting off your arm to save your hand. Do you want less curling on TV in the future?"


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