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February 11, 2009

Carolyn Bivens

Page Thompson


MIKE SCANLAN: Good afternoon, everybody. We're in here today with Mr. Page Thompson of The Golf Channel, and we have the Commissioner of the LPGA, Ms. Carolyn Bivens. And we're going to turn it over to Carolyn to start us off. She will make announcements. Page will have a few words to say, and we will open it up for any and all questions you have. We don't have microphones with us, so speak loudly.
CAROLYN BIVENS: I have just a couple of people in the back of the room, some you may not know, Linda Galloway, who's Deputy Commissioner is in the back. We have the player liaison. We have the newly elected head of the player directors, the president, Michelle Ellis, is also in the back of the room.
We are pleased today to be able to announce something that from the time that I joined the LPGA three and a half years ago was identified as one of the things that the board of directors and the LPGA was hoping we would be able to make a change, to find a home, a television time, if you will, for the LPGA, making the programming a bit more consistent, finding a partner that could grow with the LPGA; and we have in fact found that.
We are announcing today Page and The Golf Channel and the LPGA have just agreed to a ten-year television exclusive. The Golf Channel will be the exclusive cable home for the LPGA.
I hope that you all have seen some great, great improvements over the course of the last year. Page has been with The Golf Channel for a couple of years. The partnership started soon after Page got there, and everything from graphics to coverage to promotion to working with the LPGA was laying the ground work for the agreement that we announced today.
It is not insignificant to the LPGA that we are the first stand-alone women's sports organization domestically instead of being paid a right to. We're not going to talk about any of the details of that, but it is ground breaking. So Page, I'm going to ask you to say a few things.
PAGE THOMPSON: I just wanted to say on behalf The Golf Channel I'm really excited by this deal. We think the LPGA has a huge number of talented and charismatic players, and we really look forward to presenting them on The Golf Channel over the coming years and working with Carolyn and the LPGA to grow the brand and to make people more aware of all these great players and their stories because there are some incredible stories out on the LPGA Tour.
Whenever an organization like the LPGA enters into such a long-term deal as this one, they've put a lot of trust in their broadcast partner, and I just want to tell all the players and all the sponsors of the LPGA that we will do our utmost to grow the LPGA and make the sport even stronger. So thank you for your confidence in us, and we look forward to the partnership.
CAROLYN BIVENS: Thank you, Page.

Q. Mr. Thompson, any concerns about the long-term economic climate?
PAGE THOMPSON: No. We don't really have any concerns. Every single organization, every sport, every company in the United States has been touched in some way by the economic problems we're having. We're very confident in the LPGA. We know they're going to be a long-term, strong partner for us.

Q. How satisfying is it for you to get a first rights fee?
CAROLYN BIVENS: The right fit was important. It was more important to find a consistent home. As you all know, we talked about for a long time it's very difficult for our core, ardent fans to find the LPGA. We're between a couple of cable networks and between several broadcast networks, and by the time you also weigh in some of the off weeks for the women, opposite the Masters and the PGA Playoffs, it's very difficult for even our best fans to find out where we are, to have a consistent home.
It's just as important to find a partner who believes as much in the LPGA as we do, who believes in the story, the charisma of the players and sees the growth opportunity for the LPGA. So the right seed to break that barrier. It's certainly nice, but it wasn't the motivating aspect of the partnership.

Q. You truly are The Golf Channel on every Tour. How much will be live and how much will be tape delayed?
PAGE THOMPSON: We'll work with the LPGA over the next year or so to finalize a lot of plans, details. It's a little early to go into detail on that, but I am very happy now that The Golf Channel is now the exclusive home for every LPGA TOUR golf tournament. It's very exciting for us.

Q. Can you give us an idea of Michelle Wie's impact on this deal?
PAGE THOMPSON: I don't know if Michelle Wie has any impact on this deal, but it's exciting to have her on the LPGA TOUR.

Q. (Inaudible).
PAGE THOMPSON: Well, Michelle Wie's presence on the LPGA Tour has historically had an impact on rating, but that doesn't have anything to do with this deal.
CAROLYN BIVENS: I'd say the same thing. We talked this morning. Michelle Wie is one of the great stories out there. It's one of the stories that holds a lot of promise. She owns a card, and we've been watching her for six years, and a lot of people that are cheering for her to fulfill the potential that we've all seen in her.
There are a lot of other great stories out here in the rookie class. We can't overlook Vicky Hurst, which a lot of people don't know right now, but she's an awesome story. Julie chin and Stacy Lewis. We got an insight into Stacy's personality at Q-School when she said she wasn't just going to win a card. She was going to win Q-School, which she did.
So when you add those rookies to the array of personalities, Cristie Kerr, Christina Kim, Lorena, Paula, it's a nice lineup and it's a lineup that looks like it's going to hold up for a number of years.

Q. Page, do you see The Golf Channel developing some LPGA-specific programming in addition to your tournament coverage?
PAGE THOMPSON: That's absolutely. In fact, we talked about that quite a lot as we developed our plan together, and we want to support the LPGA throughout all of our coverage, in our news programming, our original programming. There are just a number of LPGA stars. As I said before, they're great stories, they're awesome people and they're great players, so I think this won't be difficult at all for us to find great stories. And you know, you've been out here on this Tour. It's a deep pool of really talented players, and it's a very exciting Tour.

Q. What will this mean for the growth of purses on Tour?
CAROLYN BIVENS: The tournament model will not change, so it's not going to be this tournament into a tournament model like the PGA where we'll be underwriting purses. It's not like that, other than the event that the LPGA owns. The right seed is shared with the tournament, so from that perspective, it will help underwrite in a round-about way the expenses of the tournament and the purses.
PAGE THOMPSON: I just want to say, for the record, by the way, we already do a lot of programming with the LPGA Tour. We've done player profiles on Christina Kim and Paula Creamer and a number of other people.
We've done original programming with the players with "The Big Break." Of course, we have several "Big Break" players, including Kim Welch, who's in the rookie class, and other people on the LPGA Tour. So we're already doing that. We're going to expand, some new media things we might do. I think we have a lot of potential there.

Q. Do you think this will increase sponsorship on the LPGA?
PAGE THOMPSON: In terms of sponsors, I think this long-term deal carries a lot of potential for the LPGA and Golf Channel to work together to develop sponsors, so I think it will have a positive impact on sponsors, and we do plan to work together to grow the number of sponsors on Tour.

Q. You said the fee wasn't the most important factor, but does it help provide you some long-term security?
CAROLYN BIVENS: Sure, it helps. Again, it wasn't the driving factor. If we could have only had one thing out of this is to get more consistent programming and to have a partner that really wants to grow with the LPGA, wants to grow tournament coverage, wants to make the LPGA as exciting as it can be to fans who are watching on television as well as those who are the Internet.

Q. What took you so long? Were you trying to knock out the men's tours first?
PAGE THOMPSON: Well, we had to do it and it was and the deal expired at the end of this year. So that's why we did this now.

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