Crews covering the broadcast portions of the PGA and LPGA Tours are currently at odds with the Golf Channel due to the lack of testing for crew members compared to players and caddies, who are receiving rapid COVID testing before events. This has already led to a number of infections among broadcast crew who require travel between locations and can’t always social distance while performing their duties.
This breaking news story comes to us from the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), who mentions that other television networks that cover golf and other sporting events have testing for crews, while the management of the Golf Channel has been less cooperative.
It is the latest development in a series of labor relations issues between IATSE members and the Golf Channel, an affiliate of NBCUniversal, after a strike in January 2018 where 300 broadcast technicians went on strike for a week and a half in
order to get a contract that was acceptable. That contract was up for renewal earlier this year with safety provision being a key issue, despite these negotiations taking place before the pandemic shut things down.Justin Conway, who represents the IATSE workers that have taken issue with the Golf Channel said, “With crews constantly traveling and coming into contact with players, other crew members, and event volunteers, we’re concerned that without proper testing protocols it’s a matter of time before a Golf Channel show turns into a spreader event.”
As part of NBC Universal, Golf Channel is also part of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) that finalized an agreement with IATSE in September over proper protocols, including testing. Conway added, “These techs bounce between networks and tournaments frequently; in some cases more often than workers who produce scripted motion pictures and television shows under the NBCUniversal umbrella. We believe it’s resulted in a situation where Golf Channel broadcast technicians are being treated as second class citizens.”