A joint statement by PGA Tour and LIV Golf attorneys, filed in a California federal court on Wednesday, illustrated how LIV contends the PGA Tour is trying to undermine its future—with LIV attorneys describing LIV’s broadcast partner, the CW Network, as a mere “secondary network” that lacks experience in sports broadcasting.
The filing mainly details a scheduling disagreement over where and when LIV can depose Thierry Pascal, the London-based senior vice president of international media for the PGA Tour International. The two sides asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan van Keulen to resolve their disagreement. In an order issued on Thursday, the judge ruled that Pascal’s deposition “will take place, in person, no later than April 14.”
In arguing they need to depose Pascal sooner rather than later, LIV attorneys depicted him as sabotaging their potential TV deals. LIV attorneys went so far as to place blame on Pascal (and the Tour) for LIV failing to obtain “a domestic broadcast contract for 2022 and only isolated and marginal international contracts.”
Pascal’s alleged conduct is depicted as the reason LIV signed a domestic contract for 2023 “with a secondary network, with LIV being its first sporting event.”
The italics are the LIV attorneys’, and while the letter doesn’t mention the CW by name, the reference is clear.
The attorneys also suggested Pascal took steps to avoid leaving an electronic trail. The lack of trail, LIV attorneys reason, is a key reason why they need to question him under oath.
“Based on Tour documents and other sources,” LIV attorneys wrote in the filing, “LIV believes Mr. Pascal used illegal means to dissuade numerous broadcasters in international markets from signing broadcast contracts with LIV and even from reporting about LIV events in their news content.”
They contend that Pascal’s “typical modus operandi” was “to communicate by email or text the Tour’s concern to the broadcaster about its negotiation with LIV then request a live meeting or phone call, so as to leave fewer documentary traces of his conduct.”
At least as depicted by LIV attorneys, Pascal was effective.
“Time and again, after the live meeting or phone call, the broadcaster did an about face and informed LIV the negotiations (in one case, a signed contract) could not proceed.”
In last month’s LIV Golf U.S. broadcast debut, only about 291,000 viewers watched on the CW. As Sportico detailed, the outing ranked “51st among the weekend’s slate of 58 nationally televised sporting events.”
(This story has been updated in the second paragraph to include U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan van Keulen ruling on Pascal’s deposition.)