End of era for Global

KIRK PENTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:48 AM ET

Global Winnipeg won't be televising the provincial men's curling championship anymore, but sports director Joe Pascucci is proud of the impact the station has had on the event.

"I remember the first few times, some of the teams would be out there in hockey sweaters and blue jeans when they were curling," Pascucci said yesterday. "It didn't seem like a major event.

"I think our television coverage of it helped magnify the significance of the event and the image of the event."

Shaw TV will be the new host broadcaster of the 2009 Safeway Championship, which will take place in Selkirk in February. It will air the semifinals and final on Feb. 20 and 21.

An announcing team has not been confirmed.

"We are extremely excited about the partnership with Shaw TV," MCA executive director Shane Ray said in a release. "... We are confident the production value will meet or exceed what Manitoba curling fans have come to expect.

"We look forward to a long productive partnership with Shaw TV."

It therefore marks the end of an era for Global, which has been the host broadcaster of the event for 22 of the past 26 years. Global will still provide coverage of the event on its nightly newscasts, but that's where its commitment will end.

"From a Global Sports standpoint we're still going to cover curling," Pascucci said. "We're still going to try to give it the high profile."

Global, or CKND as it was known then, televised its first provincial championship in 1983 and has missed only four since :1984, '85, '94 and '95. Global promotion/production manager Heather McIntyre listed technology changes and industry challenges as the reason why Global decided to withdraw from carrying the event.

Pascucci and colour man Don Finkbeiner have been mainstays on the broadcast, while a wide array of other analysts have sat in the Global chairs, including Cathy Gauthier, Jennifer Jones and Jon Mead, just to name a few.

Pascucci, who is a sports history buff, will miss the opportunity to produce longer stories about the game's past.

"It has been a lot of fun," said Pascucci, who became an MCA honourary life member in May. "I love the sport, I love the people, and I love the history and finding all that old footage of the old champions. That's what I like, sort of giving a history lesson as were covering the championships.

"We were still honouring the past champions while we were crowning a new champion."

Shaw is no stranger to broadcasting curling events, as the company currently shows both the men's and women's provincials in B.C. and Alberta as well as the women's event in Saskatchewan. Safeway Championship games will be carried live across Manitoba, in western Canada on the Shaw Network and across the country on the Star Choice satellite system, giving access to more than three million viewers.

The semifinals and finals will also be carried live online at safewaychampionships.com.


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