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CBS BRASS DEFENDS GRIN-AND-AIR-IT POLICY WITH THE MASTERS
Published April 7, 1995
CBS celebrates its 40th year of telecasting The Masters this weekend, with sports media writers across the U.S. and Canada noting the event and the compromises the network has had to make to maintain the relationship. MCCORD GOT WAXED: CBS coordinating producer Frank Chirkinian defended, once again, CBS' decision on the suspension of commentator Gary McCord from Masters' coverage for what tournament officials considered inappropriate comments. Chirkinian: "CBS was in a no-win situation and made a pragmatic decision. If we'd stood on principle, that would have been the end of us at Augusta, pure and simple." In Boston, Jim Baker writes, "CBS blew baseball, the NBA and NFL and it wasn't about to blow the Masters over bikini wax and body bags" (BOSTON HERALD, 4/7). Chirkinian: "The door is not locked on McCord ... I have a feeling he will be back next year" (Rob Longley, TORONTO SUN, 4/7). AUGUSTA CALLS THE SHOTS: In Chicago, Steve Nidetz writes, "There are only 4 minutes of commercials per hour, no station breaks, no network promotions, no 'talking heads' -- and no free speech. And the only thing CBS officials can do is take it" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 4/7). CBS has never shown a front nine, even though the holes are wired. Chirkinian's explanation: "Tradition." In Boston, Jack Craig writes, "Less coverage means less revenue, of course, but that is of no interest to the folks who run the Masters. They've had 40 one-year contracts with CBS ... The year-to-year deal puts pressure on CBS to conform." Cadillac and Traveller's Insurance are the sole sponsors (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/7). In New York, Richard Sandomir writes that "control" is "what makes the Masters great. It is unlike all other sports on TV, where TV is the money master" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/7). John Helyar calls Augusta "the corporate Woodstock," not for any sponsorship presence, but the "Who's Who of Corporate America" membership at the club (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/7). SINGAPORE SLINGS: Chirkinian took issue with Frank Deford's recent piece on HBO's "Real Sports" comparing Augusta National to Singapore. Chirkinian, who is quoted in the HBO piece criticizing the Masters' green jacket ceremony: "How many domestics have they hung at Augusta lately? ... It showed a lot of the current tabloid mentality in television" (Larry Stewart, L.A. TIMES, 4/7). GEEZ, IF THEY THINK MCCORD IS IRREVERENT: David Letterman, after being pre-empted by a half-hour by Masters highlights: "Ladies and gentleman, are you like me? Do you have Masters fever?" ("Late Show," CBS, 4/6). MORE SELECTIVE SERVICE: In New York, Phil Mushnick notes that ESPN and the USGA deny that ESPN's Chris Berman was left off early-round U.S. Open coverage (to be carried on ESPN) because of his McCord-like persona. Officials claim the USGA simply wants "four rounds of continuity from its broadcast team." But Mushnick notes, "It all sounds kinda fishy, as if Berman got the boot, or if NBC didn't want a strong ESPN talent presence" (N.Y. POST, 4/7).