Racing: TV channel bets £20 a month on survival

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The Independent Online

The price to ensure survival in the fight between the two dedicated racing channels has been set at £20 a month. That will be the amount that those who want to watch racing from the 30 courses screened by Racing UK will have to fork out when the channel ceases to be free-to-air and becomes a subscription service in October.

The price to ensure survival in the fight between the two dedicated racing channels has been set at £20 a month. That will be the amount that those who want to watch racing from the 30 courses screened by Racing UK will have to fork out when the channel ceases to be free-to-air and becomes a subscription service in October. The company's rival, At The Races, son of the now defunct attheraces, will continue on a free-to-air service as part of the Sky Family package.

There is likely to be only one survivor in the attempt to fill the gap left by attheraces. While Racing UK can offer pictures of the sport from 30 courses, including all the major venues except Ascot, At The Races has 27 courses, including the all-weather monopoly provided by BSkyB's joint partner Arena.

Racing UK begins broadcasting on a new slot today after signing up with pay-sports channel operator Setanta Sport. The new slot, on channel 432, will run in tandem with the current free-to-air one, iSport channel 425, throughout September to ensure viewers become aware of the new home. At the end of September, however, the signal to the free channel will be switched off.

The split of courses between the two channels means there will be four blank days on Racing UK in October, eight in November and seven in December, out of 88 days when racing takes place. In the first quarter of 2005 there will be a total of 28 days out of 85 with no live British action, compared with one on At The Races.

Racing UK's business plan is based on 20,000 subscriptions to reach break-even point. The company, owned by 30 of Britain's racecourses, will also unveil a new-look identity when it broadcasts from York today.

Kieren Fallon issued an upbeat report on one-time Classic hope Red Bloom yesterday as the filly attempts to break her duck for the season at York tomorrow. The Sir Michael Stoute-trained filly went into winter quarters as favourite for the 1,000 Guineas but finished only fourth to Attraction, before occupying third behind the same filly at Royal Ascot. She has not run since.

However, the champion jockey said: "She's come back to herself and worked well the other morning. I'm happy with the way she's been going. She's had most of the season off because she hasn't been right. But hopefully she will show us how good she is."

Mick Channon's much-travelled Checkit had no answer to Pepperstorm when second in the Group Two Oettingen-Rennen at Baden-Baden yesterday.

¿ Nick Cheyne, Ascot's clerk of the course and racing director, is to leave the Berkshire track to take up the position of client-relations manager with racing's civil service, Weatherbys.

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