Contrary to published reports, CBC Sports hasn't yet pulled the plug on the Hockey Night in Canada theme song.
Scott Moore, the executive director of CBC Sports, told Newsworld on Thursday that negotiations for a new licence fee are ongoing with the representatives of Vancouver composer Dolores Claman.
"We've been reaching out to [Claman] and her representative, and haven't heard back," Moore said. "We're prepared to do a deal, we're prepared to talk, but we're not prepared to do a deal at all costs."
If an agreement can't be reached, Moore said a nationwide contest would be held for Canadians to submit a new theme song.
"We have to responsibly have another plan if, for some reason, we're not able to do a deal. We've had this plan in place for more than a year," said Moore, adding the controversy and debate created by a contest wouldn't necessarily be bad.
Earlier Thursday, Copyright Music & Visuals — the Toronto agency representing Claman — said the CBC had declined to enter into a new licensing agreement for next season.
A news release posted on the company's website quotes its president John Ciccone as saying the CBC's licence agreement for the HNIC theme song ended with the Detroit Red Wings' 3-2 victory over the hometown Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final.
The CBC "has advised the composer, owner and administrator of the musical composition that it is not prepared to enter into a new licence agreement with respect to the use of the theme," the release said.
However, Moore said he intended to respond to Ciccone's offer Thursday afternoon upon his return from Pittsburgh.
"I've called several times to see if we can get [further negotiations] going and have not heard any response," Moore said shortly after 4 p.m. ET, adding his BlackBerry shut down when he landed in Toronto.
"The most important thing that I've taken from the past couple of hours is that Canadians are incredibly passionate about [the song]. I think it's a great thing that people are passionate about Hockey Night in Canada, about NHL hockey. They're passionate about the theme song.
"It's a great theme song. We've had it 39 years … we hope we can continue our relationship with it."
Composer expresses disappointment
Copyright Music & Visuals said it had offered the CBC a chance to renew its licence to use Claman's song on terms that were "virtually identical to those that have existed for the past decade."
After two years, Ciccone said the rates would rise by about 15 per cent, an increase he called an industry standard.
Previously, the CBC paid about $500 for each game broadcast by Hockey Night in Canada, the company said.
It was Moore's understanding the CBC had until 5 p.m. ET on Friday to respond to Copyright Music & Visuals' latest proposal, but "clearly they ratcheted that [deadline] up."
Claman had earlier expressed disappointment that her song may no longer be heard in homes across Canada during the hockey season.
"I am saddened by the decision of the CBC to drop the Hockey Night in Canada theme after our lengthy history together," she said in a release. "I nevertheless respect its right to move in a new direction."
Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach is also upset about the possibility of losing the song, telling reporters at the legislature on Thursday he was stunned by the initial reports.
Moore said the potential loss of the song would not damage the HNIC brand.
"The brand is Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday nights," he said. "We've got a lot of great things on that show and we're very proud of it.
"We've got a great theme song. We've got great commentators. We've got Don Cherry. We've got tremendous production teams, but no part of that brand is bigger than the whole brand.
"We'd like to keep as much of it intact but if we can't do a responsible and reasonable deal that's good for both sides, change happens."
Claman, who has written about 2,000 jingles over her career, is also credited with writing the Ontario theme "A Place to Stand," which she co-wrote with her husband Richard Morris in 1967.