Skate test events in jeopardy 

A dispute between CTV and the International Skating Union (ISU) could cost Vancouver three major skating events leading up to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

According to Octavio Cinquanta, president of the ISU, he has been unable to sign a $16 million, four-year broadcast deal with the network that would include broadcasting up to 50 ISU events. As a result, he may opt to send the world championships of figure skating, and World Cup short track and long track speed skating events to another country.

CBC also turned down the offer to televise the events, leaving it up to the Vancouver Organizing Committee of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games (VANOC) to decide whether to underwrite the hosting costs of the three test events — something they have said they will not do.

According to CTV, which outbid the CBC for the broadcast rights to the 2010 and 2012 Games, they are very interested in broadcasting the test events, but were concerned about the price. They have asked Cinquanta to separate the test events from the rest of the broadcast package, allowing networks to bid on events separately.

Cinquanta did try to sweeten the deal, offering CTV exclusive advertising rights for the three major events, all prize money, and $250,000 for Canada’s national sports organizations. VANOC would also be able to keep ticket revenues from the events.

In return CTV would have to broadcast about 50 events, including skating races in 2007-08. However, CTV has claimed that viewership is down for skating events, and they were concerned about their ability to recoup their costs in advertising revenues.

VANOC is working with CTV and the ISU to facilitate an agreement, with some prodding by the International Olympic Committee.

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