Fledgling British Racing Channel Gets Major Boost
by Mark Popham
Date Posted: 4/26/2004 7:22:02 PM

The Horse Racing Channel, a fledgling broadcaster of daily British racing, has received a major boost following the decision to join by the 13 tracks that make up Racecourse Holdings Trust.

RHT, which includes some of biggest British courses such as Epsom, Newmarket, Sandown, Haydock, Kempton, Aintree and Cheltenham, combines with Ayr, Bangor, Chester, Doncaster, Goodwood, Newbury and York in THRC, which plans to launch a subscription service as soon as possible.

Negotiations with other courses among Britain's 59 are ongoing and the RHT commitment to THRC gives the new business a good start. The network is in competition with a revamped attheraces, which is pitching for the rights to broadcast live racing.

The original attheraces stopped broadcasting free-to-air racing at the end of March after the old contract was terminated by the company. The 49 courses involved with the original attheraces are arguing over possible rebates to the broadcaster worth around £50 million.

Richard Johnston, managing director of RHT, explained: "We are convinced that THRC, which will be owned and operated by the racecourses, represents the best opportunity for the racing industry to take control of its own destiny.

"THRC will enable racecourses to not only retain these media rights but also benefit from an active development of their product. We sincerely hope that other racecourses will unite behind THRC in their own interest and that of the sport."

Arena Leisure, one of two remaining partners in attheraces (the other is Sky Television), announced on Friday a write-off attributable to the original attheraces contract of £48.9 million. That left the company with a loss of £42.2 million for last year after the £7 million in profits generated by Arena Leisure's six racecourses.

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