CDI, MEC Pull Out of Racing World UK

CDI and MEC have pulled the plug on their involvement in Racing World UK.

Churchill Downs Inc. and Magna Entertainment Corp. have pulled the plug on their involvement in Racing World UK, the United Kingdom broadcast and wagering venture launched two years ago.

Citing lower than expected handle figures, CDI disclosed in its most recent quarterly filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that the Racing World Limited partnership was dissolved April 30. The partnership included CDI, MEC, and Racing World UK, which in 2006 was described as a media company and subscription television channel owned by 31 leading British racecourses.

Broadcast of U.S. racing content supplied by CDI and MEC on British satellite Sky Channel 433 ended at the end of April, according to a press release on the Racing UK Web site. Programming was aired six nights a week.

Racing UK executive chairman Simon Bazalgette told the Racing Post that the channel “built up a small band of loyal followers, but the amount of interest has not been sufficient to justify a dedicated channel."

A spokeswoman with CDI said the Racing World venture was not able to secure adequate distribution deals with UK bookmakers and could not generate enough handle to justify keeping the channel going.

"The handle generated did not do enough to offset the costs of putting our product on satellite television," said CDI vice president of communications Julie Koenig Loignon in an e-mail. "We are still very interested in international distribution for our day-to-day racing product in this market and others. Racing World just wasn’t the right approach.

Koenig Loignon added the company was re-evaluating its options for such distribution, but had no plans to announce.

Officials with MEC did not immediately return queries for additional comment. CDI’s filing with the SEC said each company had “regained their in-home video and wagering rights for distribution in the United Kingdom.”

The Post said the action followed a cost-cutting move made a year ago in which Racing World elected to take direct coverage from HRTV, which is jointly-owned by CDI and MEC.

The decision to shut down Racing World UK leaves At the Races, which includes TVG content, as the primary source of U.S. racing broadcasts in the United Kingdom, the Post said. CDI sued TVG in 2006 over the latter’s involvement in At the Races, claiming the accused had broken certain sub-licensing agreements when it signed on to be a partner. The lawsuit was dropped by CDI in October 2007, with a company official saying at the time it had been settled amicably.