Peace 'n' quiet please!

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:17 AM ET

The ratings may be up for the quiet CFL broadcasts but the reviews aren't positive around the industry.

Naturally, play-by-play and colourmen are defending themselves in the wake of positive responses to CBC's broadcasts without announcers.

A weekend game between the undefeated B.C. Lions and the Saskatchewan Roughriders drew the best audience of the season for CBC's weekend contests. The radio talk shows and newspaper letters-to-the-editor columns across the country have been filled up by people saying they like watching games without the bother of voiceovers.

There have also been some suggesting this is the future of sports broadcasting, which Sportsnet's Roger Millions doesn't like to hear.

"You will always get people to say something different," said the voice of Calgary Flames hockey on Sportsnet. "You will never please everybody. You as a writer and me as an announcer, if 50 percent of the people like you, then you're doing very well. You will always run into people who would argue against you."

On the weekend, there was a stunning contrast between two thrilling games on consecutive days. Hamilton won a shootout with Winnipeg that wasn't over until the final play. A day later, B.C. mounted a comeback at Taylor Field to squeak out a win over the 'Riders.

TSN's Chris Cuthbert and Glen Suitor voiced an excellent game in Hamilton, adding the proper excitement level when needed. In Regina, similar tension wasn't amplified as Taylor Field public address announcer Evan Bray played it straight.

"At this level, the announcers can bring forth that drama and emotion," said Millions. "It's vital information but they can also flow with the sounds of the game. It really helps paint the picture of the game and you're missing that without the announcer."

Veteran broadcaster Don Wittman watched the game from his Winnipeg home and felt there was a void. The locked-out CBC announcer did 35 straight Grey Cup games -- the last in 1995 -- and can't see this becoming a trend, especially for other sports such as baseball and hockey.

"Some people might say they prefer it but the real fan wants information and details," said Wittman. "He wants some analysis of the play. The other night in Regina, when (quarterback) Casey Printers got hurt, there was no explanation as to what happened.

"You can get away with it in football for a period of time with the PA announcers. Hockey is too fast-moving at times. They might try to do it with just cameras but you don't have the same PA announcements. They only announce goals and penalties and there isn't any detail on every play.

"The two games without any commentary, I was listening and watching and I didn't really enjoy them."

SKED RELEASED: TSN and CBC announced their NHL schedules yesterday and the Calgary Flames will have 15 games on the networks between them. TSN has the season-opener Oct. 5 at Minnesota. Sportsnet has yet to announce its regional schedule, which will have 30 Flames games, including the second game of the season, Oct. 7 in Columbus.


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