Racing: TV hopes rise as Channel 4 delay deadline

Channel 4 television executives last night threw a lifeline to the racing industry by postponing last night's midnight deadline over its threat to end its 21-year coverage of the sport.

Channel 4 television executives last night threw a lifeline to the racing industry by postponing last night's midnight deadline over its threat to end its 21-year coverage of the sport.

After talks in London yesterday with racing and betting industry representatives, the broadcaster announced that the deadline would be put back to this coming Friday. The television company said this was to allow talks to continue about "apportioning production costs".

"While the prospect of a positive outcome to the talks remains the channel has delayed making a final decision," the statement added.

Unless a deal is reached, the sport of racing may have entered quite a new world, a bleak rather than a brave one.

A deadline has passed and we must now wait to see if the broadcasters carry out their threat and remove racing from their schedules. The £8m sponsorship Channel 4 insist is required to continue their programming has not been forthcoming from the various interests in the turf. Now the sport waits nervously, as if a photo-finish after a particularly large bet is being decided.

The broadcaster claims to lose £5m on its coverage of the sport, while it says it could earn another £5m from whatever took its place. They will settle for £8m to continue in 2006, but that subsidy figure was rejected by a committee of racing and betting industry executives last week.

The bookmakers have done something at which they are very good, their sums, and believe survival is most possible if Channel 4 ends its 21-year racing tenure. They made plentiful profit before they came along and can do so again. The bookmakers are aware they will be made the bad boys, the men with the black stetsons, for any failure to compromise.

"We know we will be perceived as the bad guys, but it is important to stress that it is just not the bookmakers but racing as a whole which has rejected this idea," David Stevens of Coral said last night. "It was a unanimous decision at last week's meeting to discuss Channel 4's demands.

"Channel 4 are demanding money that we will not pay because of the precedent it will set. We do not pay any other broadcaster of televised sport. How can racing expect to be treated differently? And how can we fund a station over which we do not have any editorial control, especially as they actively promote our rivals, the betting exchanges? The situation looks unworkable.

"If Channel 4 makes a commercial decision to pull out of racing the betting industry will have to live with that. We would be disappointed. But racing would still have two dedicated satellite channels and the great coverage of the BBC. Racing is not going to go down the pan. It will not be coming to an end next year."

Now Channel 4's bluff, if it was ever that, has been called. If they depart, the BBC will pick up the jewels, but many pearls will roll off the broken string. A large number of significant races will be absented from the televised roster.

One suggestion is that Channel 4 Racing can become a much leaner machine, thus lowering the funds required to keep it afloat. For presenter John McCririck, who seems about to be impaled on his beloved market forces, that is specifically, physically true. One intimation is that £2m could be saved from the current production costs, but that would certainly lead to a sacrifice in editorial quality.

The Racecourse Association chairman, David Thorpe, a leading figure in the negotiations, said on Monday: "The issue about the cost structure is that we think the production is too extravagant. There are too many presenters and probably too many fixtures. We appreciate that Channel 4 thrive on quality, which is fantastic to see, but we can't afford it. They have to cut their cloth according to their means."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty

Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
Designer Oscar de la Renta takes a bow after showing his Spring 2015 collection in September, his last show before his death
fashionThe passing of the legendary designer has left a vacancy: couturier to America’s royalty, says fashion editor Alexander Fury
Life and Style

Company reveals $542m investment in start-up building 'a rocket ship for the mind'

Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why