Friday, November 16, 2007


Although some of the details remain sketchy, this much is clear: if somebody thought they could hire local crew for a sports remote in Southern California and easily sidestep IATSE, they thought wrong.

We’re told that HDNet found that out on Thursday at Staples Center during preproduction for that night's Ducks - Kings NHL game. In the past, HDNet utilized Pettigrew Crewing to hire and payroll any local crew for their shows. Pettigrew Crewing is one of several companies signed to the LA and SD area IATSE sports contracts, and they also provide similar services for ESPN and Turner Sports.

The motivation is unknown, but apparently HDNet bypassed Southern California entirely and crewed the show through Chicago (Carzoli). The local crew members were all IA card holders, but were told the show was non-union.

To make matters even more awkward, the HDNet show was actually a four camera dual feed with Fox Sports' FSN West, sharing Mobile TV Group's 10 HDX.

Now it gets really interesting.

The President/COO & General Manager of HDNet is Phillip Garvin, who also holds the same titles at Colorado Studios. Mobile TV Group is a subsidiary of Colorado Studios. Who else owns a piece of MTVG? Fox Sports, of course!

In fact, it was Garvin and Fox Sports who teamed to open Mountain Mobile in 1994 (coincidentally the same year the freelancers in Southern California formed a sports local with IATSE).

In 1999, Garvin and Fox opened Lone Star Mobile in Texas, and then Mobile TV Group after that.

So, an active imagination could envision a scenario that Thursday's events at Staples Center may have been the beginning of an aggressive stance by Fox Sports against IATSE freelancers as the two parties head toward negotiations for a new contract next July. If aggressive is too strong a word, perhaps it was just a test to see what would happen.

However, sources say that FSN West and IATSE have had a productive relationship, so an unprovoked act by Fox Sports appears unlikely.

An IA representative was dispatched to Staples and met with HDNet's production team. No aspect of the HDNet show was interrupted and the game was televised as planned. What happens next remains to be seen. HDNet returns to Staples Center on December 8.

Stay tuned for that.

We all know and work with lots of freelancers from Southern California. These were the guys who started the IATSE ball rolling in the regional sports TV industry. Southern California became the model for all the other regions who have unionized in the last 13 years. Many of the members were in their 20s when they felt that health benefits and pension plans were things worth fighting for.

Their fight included a four year work stoppage against LA-based VTE Mobile Television Productions, which played a key role in the eventual downfall of that company in 1998.

Now, those same guys are in their 40s, and they know those are things worth fighting for.

Maybe it would be wise not to test their resolve.


drala said...

As a member of this crew I would like to clarify a statement made in the (HDNET receives a clear signal from IATSE) (The local crew members were all IA card holders, but were told the show was non-union.) We were under the impression that the Chicago based crewing company was working on a contract with IATSE and would have it completed on or before the Staples center game. With this in mind I took the show hoping to have this worked out prior. So just to let everyone know I was never advised by anyone this would be a non-union show.

4 said...


I see how you could interpret that sentence to mean that local IATSE crew members were doing something questionable in taking a non-union show.

However, I did not mean to imply that in any way. I was given the correct information and should have written a better description. I apologize for any confusion.

Thank you for taking the time to write in.