Masters Goes Commercial-Free

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Augusta, GA -- In response to pressure applied by a national women's group, officials from Augusta National Golf Club announced Friday that the 2003 Masters will be broadcast without commercials.
 
The National Council of Women's Organizations, which in June asked Augusta National to reconsider its membership policies to include women, had recently stepped up their campaign by contacting the Masters' corporate sponsors, Citigroup, IBM and Coca-Cola.
 
'Augusta National Golf Club is a distinctly private club and, as such, cannot talk about its membership and practices with those outside the organization,' Club chairman Hootie Johnson said in a statement in July.
 
In a statement released Friday, Johnson said, 'We have told our media sponsors that we will not request their participation for the 2003 Masters. This year's telecast will be conducted by The Masters Tournament. We appreciate everything our media sponsors have done for us, but under the circumstances we think it is important to take this step.
 
'We are sorry, but not surprised, to see these corporations drawn into this matter but continue to insist that our private club should not be 'managed' by an outside group. As I previously said, there may come a day when women will be invited to join our club, but that decision must be ours.'
 
Martha Burk, the chairman of the NCWO, could not immediately be reached for comment. Following Johnson's response in July, Burk said the organization's next move would be to contact the Masters' three sponsors and ask them not to do business with a club that refuses to allow female members.
 
The Masters' broadcast was already streamlined in that tournament policy allowed for only four minutes of commercials per hour. This past April television coverage of the season's first major golf championship was expanded to include all 18 holes during the final round, with 30 minutes of total commercial time throughout the 7 1/2 hours of televised weekend action.
 
The National Council of Women's Organizations is the nation's largest and oldest coalition of women's groups. Founded in 1980, the 160 groups represent six million women.
 
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