Sports Outside the Beltway

The Gift that keeps giving- LPGA, IMG file counterclaim in SBS lawsuit

Another financial time bomb for the LPGA thanks to its former Commissioner. From Jon Show-

The LPGA and IMG filed a counterclaim this month in a civil action with Seoul Broadcasting System over the company’s refusal to make a payment in its final year as the tour’s Korean television rights holder.

The counterclaim follows a lawsuit filed last August by SBS, the LPGA’s exclusive Korean rights holder from 1995 to 2009, against the LPGA and IMG after they awarded the Korean rights to J Golf beginning in 2010. IMG brokers the tour’s international television rights.

At the root of the lawsuit is a claim by SBS that it had verbal assurance from the LPGA that it could match any final offer for the rights. In its motion to dismiss, the LPGA and IMG deny there was any such agreement.


According to court papers, SBS says the LPGA asked for $4.5 million under terms of a five-year extension that would have begun in 2010. SBS, which paid $2.25 million a year for the rights, was informed by LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens that its $3 million counteroffer was below what she considered market value.

On Jan. 30, 2009, three days before a scheduled meeting between Bivens and SBS President Sang Chun to discuss an extension, the tour informed SBS that it had reached a tentative agreement with J Golf, according to court papers. SBS countered by offering to pay 5 percent on top of the offer from J Golf.

LPGA officianados know what happened last February. The LPGA announced its new deal with J Golf right when the SBS Open was being played. SBS President Sang Y. Chun was livid and now that LPGA tournament is history.

Would Carolyn Bivens ever make promises to a tournament sponsor and later renege or treat poorly a sponsor? Let me think.

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