The Forecaddie: Strike disrupts Golf Channel coverage

JERSEY CITY, NJ - SEPTEMBER 28: A GOLF Channel videographer is seen during the Thursday foursomes matches of the first round of the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club on September 28, 2017, in Jersey City, New Jersey. (Photo by Scott Halleran/PGA TOUR) Getty Images

The Forecaddie: Strike disrupts Golf Channel coverage


The Forecaddie: Strike disrupts Golf Channel coverage

A strike by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (ITASE) has disrupted Golf Channel’s Tour coverage and The Forecaddie expects the action to upend golf telecasts throughout the day. The action followed a union vote rejecting a recent contract offer affecting all ITASE members handling behind-the-scenes production elements of broadcasts.

Final-round coverage of the Tour’s Exuma Classic has been a bumpy ride, with additional hosting from the Morning Drive studio carrying early coverage and several commercial breaks. Bad audio, limited camera views and other signs of the strike were quickly apparent to The Man Out Front, but no mention was made of the strike.

“Golf Channel has been working on negotiating an agreement for nine months with a union that represents our live tournament technicians,” Golf Channel spokesperson David Schaefer wrote in a statement. “Those efforts have not yet yielded a resolution, and we look forward to reaching a mutually agreeable contract.  However, some technicians have chosen to walk off the job today. We have contingency plans in place, and will continue to deliver coverage. Thank you to our viewers for their patience.”

Golf Channel is scheduled for coverage of the PGA Tour Champions Diamond Resorts Invitational and Sony Open later in the day, with UK broadcaster Sky Sports already warning viewers to expect “limited” final round Sony Open coverage.

“We apologize for the interruptions to today’s PGA TOUR telecasts due to a labor dispute between the Golf Channel and its live tournament technicians union,” PGA Tour senior vice president of communications Laura Neal wrote in a statement.  “We are working closely with our partners at the Golf Channel to provide as much television coverage as possible of the Sony Open in Hawaii, The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay and the Diamond Resorts Invitational in the interim. Of course, and the PGA TOUR app will provide real-time scoring, and fans can follow tournament action via our social media channels. PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM, which can be streamed for free on PGA TOUR digital platforms, will also provide live coverage of the Sony Open as planned.  Thank you for your patience and for being a valuable PGA TOUR fan.”

TMOF hears the dispute with Golf Channel’s parent companies — NBC/Universal and Comcast — centers around several changes proposed to the current contract. The union is holding firm on a longtime $35 payment if a lunch break is reduced or missed, hourly travel pay during travel time (important toward accruing union time), multiple disputes over holiday and nightshift bonus pay. Another key issue in golf, where rain delays wreak havoc: Compression of bonus pay for a quick turnaround from 12 hours to a nine-hour window.

Golf viewers appear to be bearing the brunt of the awkward viewing Sunday, with NBC’s coverage of NHL hockey appearing normal and yesterday’s NBC broadcast of the Eagles and Falcons going unscathed.

There is some hope for a clean Sony Open telecast, TMOF believes. A lawyer for the IATSE is in New York currently negotiating with NBC/Universal lawyers. Here’s hoping the Bahamas Great Exuma Classic is on in the background so all of those racking up some overtime, holiday weekend bonus hours see how much the technicians are missed. 


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