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FOCUS ON GOLF: THE 62ND MASTERS

Just Who Is Calling the Shots at Augusta?

Television: CBS Sports president says it's a three-way partnership with members and sponsors.

April 09, 1998|LARRY STEWART | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Don't expect any CBS executives to complain about the restrictions put on them in covering the Masters.

They gladly accept them.

Lance Barrow, CBS' coordinating producer of golf who has been involved with the Masters in one capacity or another for 25 years, says, "There are no written rules. That's a misnomer. It's one of the biggest myths in sports.

"We are business partners. We all sit down and discuss how we can have the best possible telecast.

"If we want to add a camera, out of courtesy we will tell them about it. If we're going to take some helicopter shots of the course, we'll tell them about it.

"In August or September, when we meet with some of the people on the Augusta National committee, people such as Jim Armstrong, Will Jones, Buzzy Johnson, it's like getting together with old friends."

Of course, Gary McCord and Jack Whitaker, both of whom were removed from CBS' broadcast crew for comments Augusta National members considered inappropriate, might not have the same view.

Would Barrow, as a producer, like the freedom to cover all 18 holes?

"We can cover all 18 holes, but we're limited by time restraints," he said. "Last year, on the final day, we started off by showing Tiger Woods and Costantino Rocca hitting their second shots on the fifth hole."

Sean McManus, CBS Sports president, calls the televising of the Masters "a three-way partnership."

That partnership, he says, includes CBS, Augusta National and the sponsors, Cadillac and Travelers Insurance.

Exactly how that partnership works--who spends what, who gets the profits and how much--no one is willing to say.

According to Golf Digest, CBS pays about $2.5 million for its broadcast rights. One thing is clear, though. Money is not the motivating factor. And however it works, all parties seem to be happy with it.

"There is no motivation on anyone's part to change a thing," McManus said. "And I think the biggest winner in this is the viewer, who gets a telecast with very little commercial interruptions."

There are only four minutes of commercials per hour during a Masters telecast, as compared to 10-12 minutes per hour on other golf telecasts.

"I hate to use a cliche, but if it isn't broken, don't fix it," McManus said.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

TELEVISION RESTRICTIONS

* Time restraints of 2 1/2 hours today, Friday and Saturday and three on Sunday, which prohibits coverage of all 18 holes.

* Only four minutes of commercial time per hour.

* Only two sponsors, Cadillac and Travelers Insurance.

* No network promotions.

* No local commercial breaks.

* No features sound bites.

* No instructional segments.

* No mention of prize money.

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