SUN Hockey Pool

'Ultimate Canadian Idol'

BRETT CLARKSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:14 AM ET

The CBC is set to launch a song-writing contest open to all Canadians in hopes of finding a new theme song for Hockey Night In Canada, the head of CBC Sports said.

With negotiations faltering between the public broadcaster and the agency that represents the famed theme song's composer, the CBC will next week kick off the contest with Vancouver-based Nettwerk Music Group -- if the two sides can't hammer out a new licensing agreement in the next few days, CBC Sports executive director Scott Moore said.

"It would be the ultimate Canadian Idol, really," Moore said. "Because whoever wins it would have their song played on Hockey Night in Canada for the next six years at least."

Moore said there's still the possibility the iconic theme song, penned by Dolores Claman in 1968, will be back for next year's broadcast, but he sounded a skeptical note.

Negotiations haven't been going well, Moore indicated, adding that pending litigation against the CBC by Claman could very likely bring about an end to the song's usage.

"We value the piece of music, we think it's a great piece of music, but we can't do business if there's litigation and basically a gun to our head," Moore said.

Moore said that the lawsuit has put CBC in a situation where the broadcaster wouldn't want to increase the theme song's value by playing it more next year.

"We continue to negotiate, but the reality is, if somebody's suing you, you tend not to do business with them down the road," Moore said, adding he wants a deal to be reached.

The CBC has put an offer forward that expires Friday at 5 p.m., he said, declining to outline the specifics.

"As far as I'm concerned we're still negotiating," Moore said. "We think those negotiations should be held in private and we will continue to do that. We're hopeful that we'll come to an agreement, but if we don't, we have an exciting plan to launch a new theme."

Nettwerk Music Group, who would run the contest, represents such Canadian luminaries as Sarah McLachlan, Avril Lavigne, and the Barenaked Ladies.

The controversy over the song arose after John Ciccone, the president of Claman's agency, Copyright Music and Visuals, announced online earlier this week that the CBC did not renew the song's licence after Wednesday, when the licensing agreement expired.

"The CBC was offered a new licence on terms that are virtually identical to those that have existed for the past decade. The cost of CBC to use the theme song is approximately $500 for each game broadcast of Hockey Night in Canada. However the CBC has chosen to move in a new direction," Ciccone said.

Ciccone said he's still open to negotiate and has offered CBC the same contract for two years, with the rates then increasing by about 15%.

"I am saddened by the decision of the CBC to drop the Hockey Night in Canada Theme after our lengthy history together. I nevertheless respect its right to move in a new direction," said Claman in a statement on hockeytheme.com.

In an e-mail, Wayne Gretzky sounded hopeful that if the song is indeed replaced, the right one will be chosen.

"It's a great song, so many wonderful memories associated with it and while I'm sure it won't disappear altogether, I'm sure the good people at CBC have some great ideas for the future," Gretzky said.

-- With files from Sharon Lem and Don Peat


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