Reception poor for TV skating

ROB BRODIE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:31 AM ET

For years, it has provided some of the most compelling sports television viewing in our fair land.

But as things now stand, Canadians will be denied any TV coverage of the world figure skating championships next March in Sweden.

CBC's four-year contract with the International Skating Union expired after last season, and hopes for a renewal are dim.

Scott Moore, CBC Sports' executive director, told Sun Media he's already planning to fill worlds week with alternate programming.

"I'm fearful for Canadian skating fans," he said. "It's quite possible (there will be no worlds TV coverage). Figure skating fans should be concerned about the (high) value the ISU is placing on its properties."

Even though figure skating's television audiences have been in serious decline since the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics scandal, ISU president Ottavio Cinquanta remains steadfast in his belief that his product should be worth the same value to a Canadian TV network -- if not more.

"We tried to engage them (in negotiations)," said Moore. "But (Cinquanta) still thinks the property is worth a massive rights fee."

Also worth noting: There's no TV deal for worlds in the U.S., either.

If you're thinking CTV/TSN might come to the rescue, guess again. The ISU is already embroiled in a showdown with CTV and the Vancouver Olympic organizing committee over rights to figure skating and speed skating test events in 2009.

A Vancouver newspaper reported two weeks ago that the ISU wants CTV to sign a four-year, $16-million deal that would include rights to up to 50 ISU events. But while CTV, the Vancouver 2010 Games rightsholder in a consortium with Rogers Communications, wants the test events, finding airtime for all the rest is likely impossible.

CTV Inc. president Rick Brace said at the time he wasn't "hopeful of anything" in terms of a resolution.

Not exactly a pretty picture if you're a skating fan, is it?

PUCK DROPPINGS

NBC is revamping its NHL studio crew. Out are Bill Clement and Ray Ferraro, and in are TSN's Pierre McGuire, as the new host, and former NHLer Mike Milbury, as a studio analyst. Since the show is being moved to the game sites, McGuire can also continue with his Inside The Glass game analyst duties.

AROUND THE DIAL

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