LPGA IMG in civil action with SBS


A civil lawsuit the Seoul Broadcasting System has filed against the LPGA and IMG has been answered with a counter claim, according to Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal.

Staff writer Jon Show reported today that the LPGA and IMG have filed a counterclaim seeking to compel SBS to make a payment from its final year as the tour’s Korean television rights holder. Last August, SBS filed a civil action against the LPGA and IMG after they awarded Korean TV rights to J Golf beginning this year. SBS was the exclusive rights holder from 1995 to ’09. IMG brokers international TV rights for the LPGA.

Sports Business Journal reported that SBS states 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,” the publication reports. “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.”

J Golf was announced as the LPGA’s new Korean rights partner a week after SBS made the counter offer, according to the report. SBS is seeking $1.125 million in restitution, plus punitive and compensatory damages. In a countersuit, the LPGA and IMG are seeking $1.125 million  owed on a payment due on July 15, 2009.