Golf Channel Scrambles During Sony Open After Camera, Audio Workers Go On Strike
Cameramen and audio workers at the PGA Tour Sony Open in Hawaii yesterday "went on strike" before the final round and Golf Channel producers then "scrambled to put together a broadcast," according to Ryan Herrington of GOLF DIGEST. The workers were "on the job" for the first three days of the tournament, but negotiations over a new contract between Golf Channel and the Int'l Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees -- which reps 390 Golf Channel workers -- "stalled." Golf Channel's primary announcers throughout the five hours of live coverage were "not on the scene at Waialae Country Club," but rather at Golf Channel’s main studio in Orlando. The broadcast lacked "some of the usual golf telecast staples -- most notably close-up shots of the contenders from hand-held camera following them in the fairways and sounds of players and caddies interacting during strategic moments over the closing holes." On-course reporter Jerry Foltz was "part of the telecast in a different way" as he "hopped into the TV tower" on the 17th hole and worked the camera (GOLFDIGEST.com, 1/14). In Honolulu, Lewis & Kaneshiro in a front-page piece note the "only on-course broadcasting was done by Todd Lewis, who conducted post-round interviews." On-course analysts Mark Rolfing, Frank Nobilo, Whit Watson and Curt Byrum "did not appear live due to reduced audio capabilities at the site" (HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER, 1/15). GOLF.com's Josh Berhow noted Golf Channel opened its coverage of the tournament by saying, "Folks, we're focusing on the final groups and final holes tonight because some technicians walked out on the job earlier today" (GOLF.com, 1/14).
TWITTER REAX: Golfer Billy Horschel tweeted, "Feel bad for the sponsors of the event, the players, the players sponsors and the PGA Tour that will not be getting the same coverage as usually. ... Nobody wins in a situation like this. Everybody is losing money. The camera and audio tech ppl are great ppl and I have some great relationships with them." Golfer Kelly Kraft: "Hopefully golf channel figures out this strike with the tv crews. This coverage pretty much sucks, At least the blimp is getting a workout." The Golfer's Journal's D.J. Piehowski: "It's impressive that they could pull a broadcast like this together at all. And it's weirdly interesting to see more pre-shot routines. But the downsides are... mostly everything else." Orangeburg Times & Democrat's Zach Lentz: "If you want to watch a Blair Witch version of the Sony Open turn to the Golf Channel."
WHAT'S NEXT? In Hawaii, David McCracken noted union members yesterday were "seen picketing outside" the course ahead of the final round. Union rep John Culleeny said that the major issue with Golf Channel is "discrepancy in pay" (HAWAIINEWSNOW.com, 1/14). The AP's Doug Ferguson noted the strike "involves only tournaments that Golf Channel produces." The net produces the PGA Tour CareerBuilder Challenge this week in California, but CBS Sports produces the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines (AP, 1/14).