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Media Group Sues PGA Over Scores

October 12, 2000

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ A media company that has published real-time golf scores on the Internet filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour, saying it should be able to sell those scores to other media.

Morris Communications Corp., which owns The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville and The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle, claims the tour has monopolized real-time scores on its own Web site and prohibits Morris from selling its scoring package to a third party.

The tour said that while scores from PGA events are public knowledge, its scoring system is proprietary and it will ``vigorously defend itself against the lawsuit.″

Morris has asked for a preliminary injunction that would keep the tour from prohibiting the media group from selling its information until the lawsuit is resolved.

``It’s not about money,″ Julian Miller, general manager of The Augusta Chronicle, said Thursday. ``It’s about how information is being disseminated. It’s uncanny that a fight for free press is in the middle of a golf tournament, but that’s where the Internet and traditional coverage are starting to clash.″

The tour has developed a computerized system in which scores are tabulated and posted electronically as soon as a player completes a hole. It posts live scoring updates on its Web site (pgatour.com), which sells advertising.

Morris this year began sending two employees to each tournament. They work from the media center and, using the PGA Tour scoring system, post their own real-time scores for CNNSI.com and Morris news outlets.

Miller said the news company has sold its scoring package to the Denver Post during The International, a tournament which took place at Castle Rock, Colo., in August.

``The PGA Tour has said we cannot come into their media center, take the information and provide it to other media, except to post it on our own site,″ Miller said. ``Our argument is, once we have it, then it’s in the public domain and we are free to report it wherever we can.″

Of concern to the tour is that Morris is trying to make money off the tour’s financial investment of the computerized scoring system. But Morris contends its real-time scores are updated more quickly than the tour’s web site.

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