Great Britain Racing Channel Off The Air

The longest running of the two British horseracing television channels, the Racing Channel, closed Jan. 31 after more than seven years on the air.

The Racing Channel showed British, Irish, South African, and German racing, and also pioneered the broadcasts of American racing in Britain through a link-up with TRNi (The Racing Network International), which is headed by Bill Hogwood.

American racing was beamed in from TRNi's Pennsylvania hub. Two British presenters, based at the studios of the Racing Channel's owner Satellite Information Services in North London, fronted the program that went out between 6 and 11:45 p.m. each day.

The American broadcasts started Nov. 1, 2000, and developed a good audience, especially after the Racing Channel became a free rather than subscription service last year when rival broadcaster attheraces started up. However, attheraces, whose deal with 49 of Britain's 59 racecourses to show live racing had cut down the Racing Channel's appeal, recently launched its own American service in the evenings, something TRNi had been angling to control from the start.

With the closure of the Racing Channel, TRNi will now supply its American coverage to attheraces. The Racing Channel, which in January failed to retain the contract to continue showing Irish racing that had made it distinctive from attheraces, closed its afternoon broadcasts Jan. 9.

There is a difference of view about whom owned the Racing Channel at its death. SIS maintains TRNi pulled the plug while TRNi says that, while it had been negotiating to take over the Racing Channel, no deal was ever completed.