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Emily D. Swoboda

Racing Channel Calls It Quits

16 January 2003

The Racing Channel last week announced that it has ceased carrying British racing and will terminate broadcasting operations at the end of January.

The network carved out a niche for itself in the United Kingdom by giving casual punters a place to watch live racing throughout England and continental Europe.

U.S.-based TRNI owns the Racing Channel; Satellite Information Services (SIS) of England produced the network and programming for the races.

The demise comes just weeks after officials with TRNI failed to reach an agreement with Irish racing officials to continue carrying racing action from Ireland.

SIS CEO David Holdgate said TRNI officials told him they would be pulling the plug on the entire network once it becomes clear that Irish racing wouldn't be a part of the programming.

Irish coverage ended on New Year's Day following the decision of Horse Racing Ireland to stop permitting the Racing Channel to broadcast Irish racing free of charge as it had done since May 2002.

HRI demanded a guaranteed minimum income for the broadcast rights, and TRNI decided against entering a bid.

The Racing Channel also owns the broadcasting rights for the 10 British racecourses that come under the banner of GG Media.

Holdgate said those rights would be unaffected by last week's announcement and that SIS will probably shop the rights around to other broadcasting outlets.

"We retain the broadcast rights for these courses, and their payments for these rights are fully protected," he said. "We are now considering other possible opportunities for the use of these rights in the future."

SIS also coordinates the broadcasting of the races at British betting shop's from the GG Media tracks. Holdgate said those broadcasts would be unaffected by the shutdown.

Holdgate said he was disappointed to see the Racing Channel go, and not just from a business standpoint.

"Of course, we are all very sad that this excellent team has to be disbanded," he said. "It should be remembered that when we started the Racing Channel it was ground-breaking as the first single-sport service of its type."

He gave the network's founders credit for growing the popularity of the sport during a time when it faced many challenges for the entertainment and betting dollar.

"The professionals behind the Racing Channel have made a tremendous contribution to the popularity of the sport in this country and their professionalism and enthusiasm have been widely and rightly recognized," he said.

Racing Channel Calls It Quits is republished from
Emily D. Swoboda
Emily D. Swoboda