CCA rocks CBC's house

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

The Canadian Curling Association, it seems, just keeps digging itself further into its own troubled hacks.

The CBC Sports website reported yesterday that the CCA has pulled out of its controversial TV deal reportedly worth about $10 million over four years to cover both the men's and women's respective national championships, as well as the Canada Cup and the 2005 Canadian Curling Trials. And CBC has threatened to sue the CCA.

"We advised them, strenuously, that they were repudiating on our contract and, as a result, we would be seeking legal recourse," Nancy Lee, head of CBC Sports, told CBC Sports Online. "As far as we're concerned, we have three more years of a deal.

"You don't get up and walk away from a signed legal document. It's very disappointing that, despite all of the efforts made by CBC, the CCA is unwilling to fulfill its commitment to us."

Lee added that the CBC was notified yesterday morning that the CCA had issued requests for other networks to bid on the 2005-06 season and possibly longer.

"We've served a letter to terminate the agreement with them," CCA CEO Dave Parkes confirmed to the Canadian Press. "It's for non-performance basically and an inability to fix things over the ensuing months since April.

"Our efforts on this are clearly focused on providing the best coverage we can for the sport."

That is ironic since Parkes helped negotiate the last deal and sang its praises when it was first inked last summer. But after the tumultuous TV season, some incensed viewers were even calling for his scalp.

Some sources suggested that the CCA did have an escape clause while there were also reports the CBC breached its contract over the broadcasting of the world curling championships.

Despite the possible lawsuit, one source claimed that TSN is already looking into coming back on board, although the CCA is unlikely to reap as much as cash as it got from CBC.

Manitoba Curling Association executive director Ian Staniloff was shocked by the proceedings.

"I haven't heard a thing about it," he said. "When we were at the National Curling Congress (last month), they told us they were still talking to CBC and that's the last we heard. I'm dumfounded.

"But it's critical, whatever the CCA decides to do, to get our showcase events on TV."

Multi-national women's champ Colleen Jones is concerned.

"I'm fearful of what a lawsuit will do," she said. "On the surface, it's catastrophic and to go from what we had to going into no-man's land makes no sense."

The CCA has been raked over the coals since it first awarded the CBC exclusive rights to those showcase events over the more popular TSN. Making it even worse was CBC's plan to televise some of the games on Country Canada, its little-used digital affiliate.


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