A new TV deal?

CON GRIWKOWSKY -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:19 AM ET

Curling fans will get a sense of deja vu when they flip on their channel changers this year.

A new deal that looks pretty close to the old deal was hammered out between the Canadian Curling Association, CBC and TSN late Wednesday night.

The agreement closes what had been an ugly chapter in curling history when fans across the country expressed their disgust with the package curling's bigwigs and the CBC offered up last season.

CBC carries on as primary rightsholder for another three years. They've spun off the round-robin rights to TSN for afternoon and evening games at the Scotts and the Brier. No morning draws.

WORLDS IN CANADA

TSN also secured round-robin rights to world championships held in Canada. That means TSN will be in Grande Prairie for the 2006 women's worlds and here for the men's worlds in 2007 ... showing only games involving Canada.

CBC will telecast all championship round games for the big three event - including the Scotts semi, previously telecast by TSN.

"I have to give credit to the CBC," said TSN president Phil King from Toronto yesterday. "They didn't have to bring TSN back."

Nancy Lee, executive director of CBC Sports, put a positive spin on the network's diminished role.

"We're very pleased with this deal," said Lee on the network's website. "The CBC wants to ensure curling fans see the greatest number of draws and this new deal achieves it."

Popular TSN on-air personalities Vic Rauter, Linda Moore and Ray Turnbull will be back, starting with the Olympic Trials in early December.

"I talked with Linda earlier today," said King. "They certainly want to get back at it. I'm touched by the amount of support by the fans.

"We're absolutely thrilled. It's not that far away. We'll be on-air in six weeks. I can't wait."

TAPE-DELAYED GAMES

One of the beefs against TSN, which will start its 21st season of involvement in curling with the Trials, was the increasing incidence of tape-delayed games.

"We know what we lost," said King. "It's not something we wanted. We knew where we fit in people's hearts and minds."

Part of the new deal is a promise to keep tape delays to a minimum.

"For the most part, we've been able to do so," said King. "We have a very light NHL schedule during those weeks."

CEO Dave Parkes of the CCA became the man in the hotseat, feeling most of the heat in last season's fan firestorm.

"We should take some pride that our product has some value," said Parkes from Ottawa. "What ended up last year is what it was. At that point, the board felt it was the best deal.

"At the same time, the public had their say. We stayed focused and renewed it in the best possible way."


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