TSN bows out of curling picture

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 6:47 AM ET

Looks like the Canadian Curling Association and the CBC might have to kiss and make up after all.

The Sun has learned TSN has withdrawn from discussions aimed at finding a new broadcast partner for the CCA's main events -- including the Brier and Scott Tournament of Hearts -- for the 2005-06 season and beyond.

Industry whispers suggest TSN informed Dave Parkes, the CCA's CEO, of its decision on Friday.

The about-face by TSN could mean the CCA will have no choice but to revert back to the formula it used last season, when the CBC shared coverage with its digital CBC Country Canada and The Score.

It's an arrangement that raised the ire of curling fans and sponsors, and eventually led Parkes to declare in early July that the CCA was terminating the four-year deal after one season. But the CBC threatened legal action, raising the spectre of a nasty court battle.

Still, Parkes told The Canadian Press last week the CCA had worked out the details of a new deal with another network -- widely believed to be TSN -- to take over the curling broadcasts starting next season. It turns out that suggestion was premature.

The word is TSN stepped aside because of concerns it might find itself caught in the middle of a courtroom fight between the CCA and the CBC.

The clock was also working against a deal between the curling body and TSN, which has already begun putting plans in motion for its fall/winter schedule, including an extensive NHL package of at least 65 games.


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