More curling on TV?

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:11 AM ET

No heads rolled over the controversial TV curling deal last week.

But changes to the Canadian Curling Association's agreement with CBC should be forthcoming, possibly as soon as the National Curling Congress in June, CCA president Barry Greenberg said yesterday.

Greenberg, however, could not disclose what changes to the deal were discussed at last week's board of directors meetings.

At least one media outlet, as well as some curling chat lines, had suggested that the job of CCA CEO Dave Parkes, who was involved in the TV negotiations, was in jeopardy after a season that was plagued with controversy over the deal.

"That was inaccurate," said Greenberg. "There were no fireworks. We realize there was controversy about the way things took place and we will deal with them."

But modifications to the agreement, reportedly worth about $10 million over four years, are possible.

"Nothing is impossible," Greenberg said. "It's a question of working stuff through it."

The whole fiasco, however, overshadowed the action on the ice, leaving a sour taste for most concerned.

"I don't think sour taste is the right word," Greenberg objected. "But we had to dedicate more time to the issue than anticipated.

"At least we know we have a very passionate viewership and I guess that's a good sign. That's healthy for the sport, too."

To recap, the deal reduced the number of both Brier and Scott Tournament of Hearts games broadcast live on the CBC's main channel, with prime-time matches shown on Country Canada, its digital affiliate. But, to get digital TV, viewers were asked to pay extra to get a digital box and install it themselves, not an idea that appealed to the vast majority that had been getting games on regular TV for free. To make matters worse, Country Canada cut at least two games off before they were over.

After the initial outcry -- which included the Scott Paper people absolving themselves of any blame for the TV deal -- the CCA and CBC scrambled to get some games on The Score. There were also several reports that the CCA was forced to pay the CBC $300,000 to televise games at the men's world championship.

Ironically, the CBC got great ratings for the games it did show live on its main network.

The CCA directors also finalized the finances of the season's events and started making plans to introduce a national singles championship should the World Curling Federation decide to establish a world singles championship.


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