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Scott Moore, the executive director of CBC Sports, says he doesn't know why the deal to keep the Hockey Night in Canada theme song fell through.

Negotiations to keep the Hockey Night in Canada theme song have collapsed, meaning the CBC program is now in search of another anthem.

Copyright Music & Visuals, the Toronto agency representing the song's composer, Dolores Claman, said on Friday that the deal had fallen through.

That news came as a surprise to the CBC, said Scott Moore, executive director of CBC Sports.

"We're disappointed, as many Canadians are," Moore said, adding he found out about the deal falling through from CBC News.

"We have no real idea why the deal fell apart," he said. "We're not sure why because the other side hasn't communicated with us.

"You have to ask the other side what happened."

Copyright Music & Visuals said it had offered the public broadcaster a chance to renew its licence to use Claman's song — a staple on HNIC since 1968 — on terms that were "virtually identical to those that have existed for the past decade."

Previously, the CBC paid about $500 for each game broadcast by Hockey Night in Canada, the agency said.

After the first two years of a new agreement, the rates would rise about 15 per cent, an increase Copyright Music & Visuals president John Ciccone called an industry standard.

Moore would not say what the price was, nor would he comment on what the agency claimed it to be.

"We offered to continue paying the richest licence fee in Canadian television, which was the price they asked for," said Moore. "We also offered to buy it outright for a high six-figure sum."

A call made to Ciccone by CBCSports.ca was not returned Friday.

Claman, who has written about 2,000 jingles over her career, is also credited with the Ontario theme A Place to Stand, which she co-wrote with her husband, Richard Morris, in 1967.

Contest for new theme in works

Moore said Friday the two sides had agreed upon a price, but added an "unfortunate set of circumstances," including an outstanding lawsuit, hovered over negotiations.

A lawsuit filed against the CBC in late 2004 by the composer alleges that the broadcaster was overusing the Hockey Night in Canada theme and has not been settled. Copyright Music & Visuals said the litigation hasn't interfered with the CBC's use of music, nor was settlement of the suit a condition for the proposed new licensing agreement.

"We really can't do business with a lawsuit hanging over our heads," Moore said. "We feel that we've done everything we possibly can."

CBC Sports will now move on and launch a new national contest in conjunction with Nettwerk Music Group to find a new theme song, he said. Canadians will be invited to write and record an original song for Hockey Night in Canada, with fans and a jury of experts choosing the best new composition.

The winner will receive $100,000 and proceeds from any royalties will go to minor hockey across the country. More details on the contest will be revealed in the next week.

"We expect a lot of terrific music, and we expect that the new theme for Hockey Night in Canada will be as iconic as the last two themes have been," Moore said.

Earlier on Friday, Liberal heritage critic Denis Coderre told reporters in Ottawa that Conservative Heritage Minister Josée Verner must defend one of Canada's most famous musical traditions and do everything possible to ensure the CBC continues to broadcast the theme.

"The Hockey Night in Canada theme is a part of Canada's culture that goes beyond sport," Coderre said. "If the minister wants to show that she cares about Canadian heritage, this is her chance."