James Moore: All bets are off on the future of Turf TV


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The Independent Online

Outlook It looks, on the face of it, as if the racing industry is sniffing out a big winner that could be worth up to £80m. Racecourse Media Group has invited bookies to suggest how it might sell them its picture rights.

Currently they’re put together and packaged by Turf TV (TTV), which generated a huge windfall for the 34 tracks – including most of the big names – that set it up with the aid of a joint venture partner.

The creation of TTV meant they were able to soak the bookies for millions more than they had previously received from the bookmaker-owned SIS, that used to enjoy a monopoly in the field.

With a new deal due to be negotiated the tracks would naturally like more money. Unfortunately, they’re dealing with a bookmaking industry facing significant headwinds and for which racing is becoming progressively less important.

Racing’s answer to this seeming dilemma? Cut out the middleman. Many bookies run their own TV channels now and just want the bare pictures. If racing could take TTV out of the picture and keep the contract steady it could be quids in, because there would be no joint venture partner to keep happy. At least that’s the theory.

The problem is that the partner in question is Timeweave, which was taken over a couple of years ago by one Joe Lewis, a billionaire businessman. Needless to say, Mr Lewis didn’t build his empire by taking this sort of thing lying down.…