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FIRST ON CNBC: CNBC TRANSCRIPT: CNBC'S SPORTS BUSINESS REPORTER DARREN ROVELL SPEAKS WITH PGA TOUR COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM, TODAY, THURSDAY, DECEMBER 17TH ON CNBC'S "SQUAWK ON THE STREET"

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem
Getty Images
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem

WHEN: TODAY, THURSDAY, DECEMBER 17TH AT 10:10AM ET

WHERE: CNBC'S "SQUAWK ON THE STREET"

Following is the unofficial transcript of a FIRST ON CNBC interview with PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem today, Thursday, December 17th at 10:10AM ET on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street."

All references must be sourced to CNBC.

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ROVELL: AND JOINING FIRST ON CNBC LIVE FROM HIS HEADQUARTERS IS PGA TOUR COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM TIM THANKS SO MUCH FOR JOINING US THIS MORNING

FINCHEM: THANK YOU DARREN THANKS FOR HAVING ME ON

ROVELL: WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR REACTION TO TIGER'S ADMISSION OF INFIDELITY AND THE SAGA THAT HAS FOLLOWED

FINCHEM: WELL YOU KNOW AS WE SAID LAST WEEK HE DECIDED TO STEP AWAY FROM THE GAME WHILE HE DEALT WITH HIS PERSONAL ISSUES AND HIS FAMILY ISSUES WE INDICATED THAT WE SUPPORTED THAT DECISION WE THOUGHT THAT HIS PRIORITIES WERE IN THE RIGHT PLACE AND I CONTINUE TO BELIEVE THAT I THINK WHEN YOU STAND BACK AND LOOK AT IT I THINK TIGER WOODS HAS BEEN TERRIFIC FOR THE GAME OF GOLF AND THE PGA TOUR TODAY NAMED ATHLETE OF THE DECADE ON THE OTHER HAND THE PGA TOUR AND GOLF HAVE BEEN GOOD FOR TIGER WOODS I THINK THIS IS A MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL RELATIONSHIP WILL CONTINUE WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT

ROVELL: SO YOU MADE THAT STATEMENT THE PGA TOUR MADE THAT STATEMENT I JUST WANT TO BE CLEAR ON THIS ITS TIGER'S DECISION TO TAKE AN INDEFINITE BREAK THERE'S A LOT ON THE LINE FOR THE TOUR. THE TOUR DID NOT IN ANY WAY INFLUENCE HIS DECISION TO STAY AWAY FROM THE GAME

FINCHEM: NO I APPLAUD THE DECISION I THINK IT IS THE RIGHT DECISION BUT ITS HIS DECISION AS TO WHEN HE COMES BACK WHEN I SAY WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT THATS REALLY HIS DECISION BUT IF YOU'VE WATCHED TIGER OVER THE LAST THIRTEEN YEARS HE DOESN'T COME OUT TO PLAY GOLD UNLESS HE'S IN POSITION TO WIN PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY AND I TAKE HIM AT HIS WORD WHEN HE TALKS ABOUT THOSE ISSUES HE'S GOT TO DEAL WITH HE'S GOT A DEAL WITH THEM IN A TIMEFRAME THAT WORKS FOR HIM I DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT TIMEFRAME IS AND FRANKLY IM NOT CONCERNED ABOUT THAT I'M CONCERNED ABOUT AND SUPPORTIVE OF HIS EFFORTS TO GET HIMSELF STRAIGHTENED OUT IN HIS PERSONAL LIFE AND BE PREPARED TO PLAY THE GAME AND WHENEVER THAT IS THAT IS ACCEPTABLE TO US

ROVELL: YOU DON'T HAVE ANY GUESSES ON HOW LONG IT MIGHT BE FOR TIGER TO COME BACK

FINCHEM: NO I REALLY DON'T I THINK THAT IT COULD BE WEEKS IT COULD BE MONTHS IT COULD BE AN EXTENDED AMOUNT OF TIME I REALLY DON'T KNOW YOU KNOW WE WILL MOVE FORWARD WE LOST TIGER IN 2008 FOR MOST OF THE YEAR WHEN HE WAS OUT WITH AN INJURY WE MOVE FORWARD AND THERE'S BEEN EVERUYTHING ABOUT THIS STORY WITH TIGER HAS BEEN INCLUDED A FAIR OF HYPERBABLE ON THE BUSINESS SIDE OF THE EQUATION THAT'S CERTAINLY BEEN THE CASE I SAW SOME THIS MORNING WHERE TV REVENUES IS GOING TO BE OFF $200 MILLION DOLLARS YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND OUR BUSINESS MODEL WE PERFORM WE HAD A RECORD YEAR IN 2008 IN A LOT OF FRONTS RAISING $125 MILLION DOLLARS FOR CHARITY WE DIDN'T HAVE TIGER FOR TWO THIRDS OF THE YEAR WITHOUT TIGER FOR A PERIOD OF TIME WE WILL PERFORM QUITE WELL AS A MATTER OF FACT THE TOP SIX PERFORMING TOURNAMENTS ON THE PGA TOUR IN TERMS OF NET REVENUE FOR CHARITY WHICH IS AN INDICATION OF THEIR FINANCIAL STRENGTH TIGER HASN'T PLAYED IN ANY OF THOSE SIX IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS NOW I DON'T WANT TO DIMINISH HIS IMPACT HE IS OUR NUMBER ONE PLAYER NUMBER ONE STAR HE BRINGS ENORMOUS ATTENTION TO THE SPORT BUT WE CAN MOVE FORWARD WITHOUT HIM AND THERE IS ALWAYS A SILVER LINING WHICH IS IN 2008 WE HAD ANTHONY KIM AND CAMILA BAJEGAS AND OTHER PLAYERS COME FORWARD AND WE CREATE NEW STARS

ROVELL: COMMISSIONER LET ME ASK YOU THIS QUESTION YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT TIGER AND FOR HIM ASSUMING TIGER COMES BACK SOONER THAN EXPECTED WHAT DAMAGE IN YOUR OPINION HAS BEEN DONE TO THE GAME I MEAN HE IS YOUR NUMBER ONE STAR

FINCHEM: I DON'T THINK THE GAME HAS BEEN DAMAGED I MEAN THE GAME GOES BACK CENTURIES WE HAVE BEEN PLAYING GOLF FOR 500 YEARS AND EVERY ONE OF THOSE YEARS THE GAME OF GOLF HAS GROWN THIS YEAR WITH GOLF GOING IN THE OLYMPICS WE HAVE BURGEONING GROWTH IN ASIA THIS IS A GLOBAL SPORT THE GAME IS NOT GOING TO BE HURT THE GAME HAS 60 MILLION PEOPLE WHO PLAY IT TENS OF MILLION MORE THAT WATCH IT THESE ARE PEOPLE THAT ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT THE GAME THE PGA TOUR HAS 100,000 VOLUNTEERS RAISING MONEY FOR CHARITY THE GAMES NOT GOING TO BE HURT BUT YOU KNOW HAVING SAID THAT WE WANT TO SEE TIGER FIX HIS ISSUES AND COME BACK AND CONTINUE THE LEGACY HE HAS DEVELOPED IN TERMS OF BEING ABLE TO PLAY THE GAME AT THE LEVEL HE HAS PLAYED

ROVELL: YOU REFERENCED THIS YOU KNOW THIS STORY HAS BEEN SO DOMINATE SO MUCH SO THAT YOU WERE EVEN MOCKED ON SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE THIS PAST WEEK AS THEY WERE MAKING FUN OF THESE STORIES THAT SUGGESTED THE PGA TOUR WOULD NOW BE IN DIRE FINANCIAL STRAITS WHAT'S YOUR IMPRESSION OF HOW THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA HAS PORTRAYED THE POSITION THE TOUR IS IN NOW

FINCHEM: WELL THERE'S NO POINT IN ARGUING WITH THE MEDIA WHEN THEY GET ON A ROLL WITH SOME OF THESE THINGS STATEMENTS ARE MADE AND THIS PARTICULAR QUESTION HAS BEEN PRETTY ONE-SIDED REALITY IS I AM MORE CONCERNED WITH THE CONTINUED RECESSION THE ECONOMIC FACTORS THAN I AM ABOUT TIGER LEAVING TIGER INCREASES OUR TV RATINGS BUT THE SALES AND SPONSORSHIPS AND TV ADVERTISING IS WHAT IS KEY TO OUR SPORT AND WE HAVE HAD A VERY GOOD YEAR I AM DOING A PRESS CONFERENCE IN A LITTLE WHILE TODAY AND WILL BE ANNOUNCING SOME ADDITIONAL CORPORATE SPONSORSHIPS WE'VE HAD A VERY SOLID YEAR IN A BAD ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT NEXT YEAR WE ARE GOING TO HAVE A COUPLE 100 PLAYERS TEE IT UP WE ARE GOING TO HAVE RECORD PRIZE MONEY WE ARE GOING TO REBOUND IN CHARITIES FROM 109 MILLION DOLLARS IN A BAD YEAR IN 2009 TO PROBABLY 116-118 MILLION DOLLARS NEXT YEAR WE ARE GOING TO HAVE A TERRIFIC YEAR SPONSORSHIP WISE AND TV WISE ON T

ROVELL: LET ME GET TO THE TV THING THE TOUR'S TV CONTRACTS EXPIRE IN 2012 ALL THIS TALK THAT THE NEGOTIATIONS FOR THE NEXT DEAL ARE GOING TO BEGIN IN THE NEXT YEAR HOW COULD A PROLONGED TIGER ABSENCE YOU SAY YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE A POTENTIAL DROP AND MAYBE THE MARKETABILITY OF THE TOUR CHANGED THE TIMING AND THE VALUE OF THOSE DEALS

FINCHEM: WELL I DON'T THINK IT CHANGE OUR AGREEMENTS ARE UP IN 2012 AND HISTORICALLY WE LIKE A FULL-YEAR BETWEEN WHEN WE COMPLETE OUR TV DISCUSSIONS AND THE END OF THE TERM SO WE ARE LOOKING TOWARD THE FOURTH QUARTER OF 2011 FOR OUR TV NEGOTIATIONS AND THAT'S ALMOST TWO-YEARS AWAY OUR TV IS PERFORMANING EXPTREMELY IN A DOWN ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT ADVERTISING BUDGETS ARE OFF IN CORPORATE AMERICA SO IT IS HARDER TO SELL THROUGH ON ADVERTISING BUT HALF OF OUR ADVERTISING COMES FROM OUR SPONSORSHIP WHICH IS AT 100 PERCENT LEVEL AND EVEN WHERE WE HAVE A COUPLE OF HOLES WE HAVE FIGURED OUT WAYS TO BRIDGE THOSE HOLES AS WE GET THROUGH THE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN

ROVELL: CAN WE TALK ABOUT SPONSORSHIPS

FINCHEM: LET ME JUST MAKE THIS POINT IF YOU LOOK AT IF YOU LOOK AT THE CUMULATIVE AUDIENCE THAT NIELSEN MEASURES IN 2007 2008 AND 2009 IT WAS 26 MILLION PER EVENT OF PEOPLE TUNING IN 2007 THE SAME NUMBER IN 2008 WHEN TIGER WAS OUT HALF A YEAR AND UP SOME IN 2009 WHERE OUR RATINGS WERE UP SO OUR FUNDAMENTAL POSITION IN TV AS LONG AS OUR SPONSORSHIP IS STRONG IS GOING TO CONTINUE TO BE VIABLE AND OUR SPONSORSHIP IS VERY VERY SOLID TODAY AND GROWING

ROVELL: IT SEEMS LIKE YOU VIEW THE BASELINE AS GOLF WITHOUT TIGER AND THEN TIGER IS THE BONUS THE PUBLIC IS VIEWING IT FROM TIGER DOWN IS THAT ACCURATE

FINCHEM: ABSOLUTELY AND IVE BEEN HAVING THIS CONVERSATION FOR TWELVE YEARS WITH THE MEDIA EVERYBODY SAYS GEE WHIZ WHEN RATINGS ARE UP WHEN TIGER PLAYS WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THE OTHER WEEKS WELL WE HAVE 47 TOURNAMENTS TIGER PLAYS IN 16 ALL OF THOSE TOURNAMENTS ARE FULLY SPONSORED AND THE PRIZE MONEY IN THE TOURNAMENTS THAT HE HASN'T PLAYED IN HISTORICALLY ACTUALLY HAVE GROWN SO WE VIEW TIGER AS A HUGE BONUS NOT JUST A BONUS A HUGE BONUS BECAUSE HE BRINGS IN SO MANY WHAT WE CALL SOFT VIEWERS BUT IF YOU LOOK AT THE NUMBER OF VIEWERS WEEK IN AND WEEK OUT ON AVERAGE AND THE QUALITY OF OUR VIEWERSHIP THE DEMOGRAPHIC THE OPINION LEADERS THE PEOPLE THE BUYING POWER OF OUR DEMOGRAPHIC IT IS VERY APPEALING FOR OUR SPONSORS THESE COMPANIES MADE SMART DECISIONS THEY HIRED LOTS OF SMART PEOPLE TO MEASURE ALL OF THIS STUFF AND EVERY TIME WE ARE IN AN ECONOMIC DOWNTURN WE PENCIL OUT VERY WELL AGAINST THE OTHER SPORTS THE REASON IS THE STRENGTH AND VALUE OF OUR TV AUDIENCE WE DON'T SEE THAT CHANGING BUT WE WANT OUR NUMBER ONE PLAYER BACK AND WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO HAVING HIM BACK AS SOON AS POSSIBLE

ROVELL: LET'S GET FOCUSED ON HIM AGAIN HAVE YOU SPOKEN TO TIGER

FINCHEM: I HAVE NOT SPOKEN TO HIM SINCE ALL OF THIS HAS STARTED BUT I HAVE OBSERVED HIS REQUEST FOR PRIVACY AND AGAIN I AND ALL OF US SUPPORT HIS DECISION TO STEP AWAY I THINK IT WAS THE RIGHT THING TO DO AT THIS POINT AND TIME THE MEDIA IS JUST SO OVER THE TOP BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY HE'S GOT AS HE SAID I AM NOT SPEAKING FOR HIM I AM USING HIS WORDS HE'S GOT TO DEAL WITH THE PERSONAL AND FAMILY ISSUES BEFORE HIM AND I THINK ALL OF US RECOGNIZE THOSE ARE SERIOUS ISSUES WE WISH HIM THE VERY BEST IN DEALING WITH THEM

ROVELL: HIS REPRESENTATIVES MARK STEINBERG AT IMG HAVE YOU SPOKEN TO HIM

FINCHEM: YES

ROVELL: OK LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT TIGER YOU KNOW HE'S BEEN SEEN BY A DR WHO HAS BEEN CHARGED IN CANADA FOR SMUGGLING HUMAN GROWTH HORMONE TIGER'S TREATMENT OBVIOUSLY WAS SAID TO BE UNRELATED WITH WHAT YOU KNOW AT THE TIME DO YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS WITH HIS CONNECTION TO THAT DR

FINCHEM: NO BECAUSE OUR PEOPLE HAVE LOOKED AT I AM NOT PERSONALLY INVOLVED BUT OUR PEOPLE AND OUR DRUG PROGERAM HAVE LOOKED AT THAT PROCEDURE AND THERE IS NOTHING ABOUT THAT PROCEDURE AT ALL THAT TRIGGERS ANY PROBLEM WITH OUR CURRENT DRUG POLICY SO THERE IS NO REASON FOR US TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT THAT PARTICULAR PROCEDURE

ROVELL: ONE LAST QUESTION FOR YOU WHAT'S YOUR SENSE OF HOW THE CASUAL GOLF FAN VIEWS THIS GAME NOW VERSUS THREE WEEKS AGO ANYTHING CHANGE?

FINCHEM: I DON'T THINK ABOUT THE GAME I THINK PEOPLE RECOGNIZE THAT THIS IS AN INDIVIDUALS PERSONAL LIFE NOW EVERYBODY RELATES TO THINGS THAT GO ON IN A PERSONAL LIFE DIFFERENTLY AND WE UNDERSTAND THAT BUT I THINK AGAIN THE GAME OF GOLF WAS BIGGER THAN JACK NICHOLAS WHEN JACK WAS DOMINATING THE GAME IT'S BIGGER THAN TIGER WHEN TIGER IS DOMINATING THE GAME AND IT WILL GO ON TIGER WILL RETIRE AT SOME POINT JACK RETIRED BUT I THINK PEOPLE WILL LOOK AT THE NUMBER ONE ATHLETE OF THE DECADE AND PULL FOR HIM NOW REALLY IN AN UNDERDOG POSITION TO DEAL WITH THESE ISSUES TO COME BACK AND WIN GOLF TOURNAMENTS AND GO BACK TO STIMULATING YOUNG PEOPLE AND BRINGING FANS TO THE SPORT AND CERTAINLY THAT'S WHAT I LOOK FORWARD TO AND NOT JUST BECAUSE IT IS GOOD BUSINESS I THINK I LOOK AT THIS GUY AND SEE A GUY WE IN GOLF OWE A LOT TO A GUY THAT IS SO DEDICATED AND SO FOCUSED AND BRINGS IT EVERY TIME HE TEES IT UP WHO IS FOCUSED ON A FOUNDATION THAT'S DONE GREAT THINGS FOR THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF KIDS I DON'T THINK ALL OF THAT GETS WASHED AWAY BECAUSE OF THESE PERSONAL ISSUES I JUST HOPE FOR HIS SAKE AND HIS FAMILY'S SAKE A BEAUTIFUL FAMILY THAT THINGS CAN WORK OUT SO HE CAN COME BACK

ROVELL: IT SHOULD BE INTERESTING TO WATCH PGA TOUR COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM THANK YOU FOR JOINING US FIRST ON CNBC

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