New Racing Channel Set for Launch in Britain

The new free British racing television channel, run by the "attheraces" consortium, will launch on time May 1 with 14 hours of broadcasting a day from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

It will be available immediately to the 5.8 million people who have access to satellite operator Sky Television, and could also be on the NTL and Telewest cable systems. That would add another two million potential customers.

The 10 presenters of the attheraces channel--five men and five women--all have at least some racing knowledge, and many have been involved in broadcasting racing on the rival Racing Channel, a subscription service with 38,000 subscribers.

Two of the presenters, Alice Plunkett and Emma Ramsden, will do video tours of racecourses with former flat jockeys Jason Weaver and John Reid, while top jump jockey Norman Williamson will be the guide on National Hunt courses. Lydia Hislop, another presenter, may not be able to start for two months because her current employer, the London Evening Standard newspaper, has no replacement for its main racing reporter.

While the attheraces channel will televise racing from 49 of Britain's racecourses, including all the main ones, the Racing Channel has 10 British courses and overseas racing from the United States, Ireland, and South Africa.

The attheraces channel hopes to make money through interactive wagering.