BBC warned over Open coverage
The BBC have been warned by the R&A they could lose the rights to live coverage of the Open if they do not keep pace with new technology.
A contract is in place until 2016 but the corporation have reduced coverage of events in recent years and are facing fierce competition from satellite broadcaster Sky, who shared last month's coverage of the Masters.
The Open is currently on the B List of sporting events which are protected, which only stipulates highlights must be available free-to-air.
But advancements in technology, which Sky first used in their football coverage but have since transferred to golf including methods such as 3D TV, mean the BBC's stranglehold on the only major played outside the United States is under threat.
Asked whether the R&A were concerned by BBC's reduced golf coverage chief executive Peter Dawson said: "Certainly. We have had that conversation with the BBC.
"Because of the financial position they are in they are moving towards covering the biggest events they can get.
"They have to keep up with the advances in technology of broadcasting and they know we have got our eye on that.
"Like everything else in life you need to be in practice and you need to be doing it well.
"The BBC have some very talented people in their production team.
"We want the Open to be seen by as many spectators as we possibly can.
"We also know, over time as things change, the choice for people to consume the championship is not just on television but through digital media.
"The BBC know they have to get off the financial plateau they are on with the Open next time round.
"Negotiations (on a new television deal) are usually opened 12-18 months before.
"Who knows who will be in the market by then?"
The BBC came in for criticism over their coverage of the Masters when they employed former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan as one of their commentary team.
He made a huge public blunder in an interview with 14-time major winner Tiger Woods when he incorrectly stated to the former world number one that he had three green jackets (he actually has four).
Dawson was asked for his opinion on the BBC's decision to employ Vaughan for their golf coverage.
"Matters of that nature are for the BBC [but] it seemed rather unusual," he said.
While the R&A may believe the BBC are dragging their heels in terms of technological advancements they are trying to catch up themselves after announcing the ban on mobile phones will be lifted for this summer's Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes.
Calls will be allowed in designated areas but photography and video recording will not be permitted during the four days of the championship.
"There is no denying the attachment people feel to their mobile phones both in terms of gathering information and staying in touch with family and friends," said Dawson.
"We understand this and allowing their use at the championship will enrich the Open experience.
"We understand there will be concerns over this change in policy but we will be liaising with spectators around the tented village and food and drink outlets.
"Strict rules will be put in place designed to ensure that play is not affected in any way by the change.
"Our spectators are very knowledgeable and understand golf and so we are confident they will respect the players."
There have been a significant number of physical changes to the Lytham course since David Duval won the last time the Open was staged there in 2001.
All but four holes - the first, ninth, 12th and 15th - have undergone redevelopment with almost 200 yards added to the overall length and a completely new seventh green constructed.
The links will now play 7,086 yards as opposed to the 6,905 it did 11 years ago.
The 492-yard sixth hole has also been downgraded to a par-four for this year's Open, making the course a par 70 for the championship.
Dawson admitted they had probably reached their limits at Lytham in terms of adding extra length.
"There is always room to do something but we are very close to the maximum," he added.