Walker deal gives Russians a day at the races

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The Independent Online
GEORGE WALKER, the bankrupt former boxer who was cleared of fraud last year, will tomorrow bounce back with the pounds 6m launch of a venture to beam to Russia live TV coverage of British horse and dog racing.

The service, in which the Rus-sian Space Agency has a stake, will also feature boxing and other sports as well as a rock music radio station. The Russian Satellite Communications Company, part of the space agency, will make and install the satellite dishes and TV sets.

Currently in Moscow, Mr Wal-ker said: "Since betting was legalised in 1993, a huge market has developed. There will be around 3,000 betting shops in Russia alone by the year 2000." He is also aiming his service at casinos, pubs, restaurants, hotels and social clubs.

Mr Walker's company, SIS Telesport, will take pictures from the British Satellite Information System, which transmits to UK betting shops, and add a Russian commentary.

Walker and his family have a controlling stake in SIS Telesport. Other shareholders include Sidney Carr, a former director of Brent Walker, John Hoey, the chairman and chief executive of Hondo Oil, and the Tiller Group, which started a cable TV system for St Petersburg. Revenue will come from subscribers and advertisers. Owners of more than 700 outlets have asked for the service, which costs pounds 3,000-pounds 15,000 a year. There will be up to 10 minutes of advertising per hour, and Mr Walker is negotiating with drinks and tobacco companies.

Once his Russian Empire is established, Mr Walker plans to conquer Lithuania, Latvia, Hungary, Poland and Romania. SIS already reaches over 25 countries as far apart as Ghana, Turkey and the eastern seaboard of the US. Feasibility studies are being held in Bulgaria and Israel.