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UK Racecourses, Attheraces Accused of Breaking Law

6 April 2004

UNITED KINGDOM – As reported by the UK Guardian Unlimited: "The Office of Fair Trading yesterday said racecourses had broken competition law by collectively selling television rights to the doomed Attheraces channel.

"The consumer watchdog said the 49 tracks acted anti-competitively by negotiating a television deal as a group, extracting a better price from Attheraces in the process.

"Yesterday's ruling follows the closure of the Attheraces channel last month, after owners BSkyB, Channel 4 and Arena Leisure decided they were not making sufficiently high returns on the £307m, 10-year agreement.

"Vincent Smith, the director of competition enforcement at the OFT, said the ruling sent a warning signal to other sports bodies considering collectively struck media deals.

"..The ruling will, however, further complicate attempts to rescue coverage of horseracing, which now does not have a dedicated television channel. Track owners have divided into five groups to negotiate a new deal…"

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