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UNDRAFTED

Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf Accused of Stripping Union Benefits from TV Production Workers

Labor union IATSE has accused LIV Golf, a well-funded golf league backed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, of stripping TV production workers of their healthcare and other union benefits. LIV Golf spent a reported $784 billion in its first season, most of it on poaching top PGA talent. The league has not yet responded to the allegations, which are likely to cast a shadow over its future success.

Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf, a well-funded upstart competitor to the PGA, is being accused by below-the-line labor union IATSE of stripping TV production workers of their healthcare and other union benefits. IATSE claims that during LIV Golf's first season, it provided these benefits, but is now shifting its TV production to a non-union shop in its second campaign.


In a statement published on Wednesday, IATSE said that "the technicians behind LIV Golf’s telecasts are some of the few in major sports who do not receive health and retirement benefits despite providing world-class coverage." LIV Golf, which pays its own expenses for TV production, has not yet responded with a statement of its own.


LIV Golf spent a reported $784 billion in its first season, most of it on poaching top PGA talent. Backed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF), IATSE is leveraging this largesse in its advocacy for its union members. The union argues that the PIF "has seemingly bottomless pockets and no aversion to spending extravagant sums," and that LIV Golf should ensure that its crews are taken care of if it hopes to engender goodwill from the production community.


LIV Golf's controversial funding source has limited its television earnings potential. The CW, which shows matches in the U.S. via a distribution deal, is not paying a rights fee to show its matches. The new golf league and the network have a revenue-sharing arrangement, with LIV Golf paying production expenses.


The CW reported that 3.2 million viewers saw the opening event for LIV Golf's 2023 season two weeks ago. The controversy surrounding the alleged stripping of union benefits from TV production workers is likely to cast a shadow over the league's future success. It remains to be seen whether LIV Golf will respond to IATSE's allegations and take steps to address the concerns of the union and its members.

Austyn McFadden

@UndraftedNews

March 21, 2023 at 12:00:00 AM

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