Broadcast workers are integral to the success of every sports production and take pride in their work to bring quality content to audiences worldwide. However, many behind-the-scenes technicians responsible for LIV Golf coverage feel far from valued team members.
In LIV Golf’s inaugural season last year, crewmembers worked under a union contract, which contributed to the healthcare and retirement benefits that all workers deserve. But the deal changed for the crew in LIV’s 2023 sophomore season, as workers were shocked to learn that LIV had pulled the rug out from under them by shifting to a non-union production company in order to circumvent the need to provide important employee benefits.
As it stands, 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.
“I gave up other work last year to commit to LIV because I knew I would receive much-needed healthcare contributions to keep my family in coverage. But now that’s all changed,” one crewmember told IATSE, which issued a press release about the concerning matter. “There seems to be plenty of money to spend on extravagant excess but not to guarantee the crew that puts their product on the air access to healthcare. These are industry standards, and the LIV executives could care less.”
Making this sudden change in working conditions worse is that the Saudi Arabian government’s Public Investment Fund, the primary financial backer of the league, has seemingly bottomless pockets and no aversion to spending extravagant sums, seeing as the 2023 season of LIV Golf is projected to cost $1 billion. Five golfers alone account for more than half a billion dollars in guaranteed contracts, tournament purses are in the tens of millions, and players, caddies, and extended entourages receive lavish private flights. When one considers these factors, the technicians bringing these events to television should be getting wages and benefits up to industry standards. LIV Golf should ensure that its crews are taken care of, especially if it hopes to engender goodwill from the production community.
“I’m in the twilight of my 30+ year career broadcasting golf, and I am losing much-needed retirement contributions that I was counting on to keep me on track to reach my retirement goals,” a veteran broadcast technician told IATSE. “At this phase of my life, I must continue to save as much as possible to retire at an appropriate age.”
“As skilled and dedicated professionals, broadcast workers deserve fair benefits and working conditions that reflect the value of their contributions to LIV Golf,” IATSE Representative Rachel McLendon said in a statement. “We are calling on LIV to work together so that all workers have access to benefits and are given a voice in their workplace.”
Additionally, IATSE is mobilizing to call on policymakers and industry leaders to support these workers’ rights and to hold employers accountable for any violations of those rights.