Golf Channel Lowers TV Quality As Workers Go On Strike

Posted: Jan 18 2018, 10:28am CST | by , in Latest Sports News


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Golf Channel Lowers TV Quality as Workers go on Strike
Image: Deadspin

Fans of the centuries-old game hoping to catch the action from Sunday's Sony Open in Waialae, Hawaii, saw the TV production quickly devolve into something worthy of a high-school film production class.

Golf is a gentleman's game, but labor disputes don't play favorites. Fans of the centuries-old game hoping to catch the action from Sunday's Sony Open in Waialae, Hawaii, were reminded of this when a normally white-glove TV production quickly devolved into something worthy of a high-school film production class.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) has been at odds with NBC-owned Golf Network since the week before the tournament over allegations of unfair pay and work hours. Though the tournament moved along as usual, Golf Network had to scramble to provide coverage after large numbers of crew members left their posts.

Production Quality Suffers

With many cameras left unmanned, TV broadcasts shifted from the tightly manicured close-ups fans have come to expect to a heavy helping of overhead shots from cameras mounted on the circling blimp. Spreading their remaining crew, including celebrity commentators, thin to man select cameras allowed the popular channel to keep some more intimate shots. However, overall quality was noticeably lacking.

Those who attended the event got to see longtime TV host Jerry Foltz operating a camera in a tower on the 16th hole fairway. If nothing else, a special treat for both veterans of the sport and the up-and-coming generation who are playing more golf than ever before. Other shots came from too far away to see the action, were out of focus or suffered from the shakes.

Low-Resolution Coverage, No Resolution for Workers

It wasn’t just the Hawaii event that was affected by the IATSE walkout. Events in the Bahamas and Florida also saw Golf Network scrambling to keep the lights on.

Golf Network released a statement to the Associated Press outlining the situation with workers. The statement describes a situation that has been ongoing for almost a year now in some form. The TV network expressed their desire to reach a mutually agreeable contract. However, the statement also noted: "Some technicians have chosen to walk off the job [Sunday]. We have contingency plans in place and will continue to deliver coverage.”

Outside of the Waialae Country Club where the Sony tournament was held, more than 30 IATSE members picketed in support of the technical crew that chose to abandon their posts on the course. Apparently, there were even plans for the technicians to strike beginning in the third round of Saturday's coverage, but that decision was delayed in hopes a resolution could be met through an additional meeting.

On to the Next Tournament

With no clear end to the strike in sight, Golf Channel will need to make ready to present their other events in the coming weeks without the help of a film crew. There are three this coming week. However, one takes place in Orlando near the company headquarters, which could lessen the challenge.

Considering the state in which Hawaii began its day on Sunday — with a false-alarm ICBM warning — some shaky footage of a golf tournament shouldn’t seem like such a big deal. Then again, The Golf Channel probably doesn’t feel that way.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/56" rel="author">Scott Huntington</a>
Scott Huntington is a writer and journalist from Harrisburg PA who covered movies, tech, cars, and more. Check out his blog Off The Throttle or follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington.




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