Tracks back Savill over media rights

The Racecourse Association yesterday decided to back a proposal by Peter Savill, the chairman of the British Horseracing Board, that media rights to British racing should be vested in a company jointly owned by the two organisations.

The Racecourse Association yesterday decided to back a proposal by Peter Savill, the chairman of the British Horseracing Board, that media rights to British racing should be vested in a company jointly owned by the two organisations.

It had been widely anticipated that the meeting of the RCA in London would be asked to accept an alternative plan, formulated to allow the courses to retain full control of their media rights. This did not materialise, however, and racing will now be able to provide a united front as it negotiates payments from bookmakers, in particular, in return for the right to show live British racing in betting shops.

Yesterday's decision is a significant victory for Savill and the BHB, which owns the rights to pre-race information, such as runners' names and the weights they will carry. Savill had long argued that pooling these rights with those of the racecourses would allow the industry to gain the best possible price for its product.

It also emerged yesterday that Arena Leisure plc, which owns a number of British racecourses including Lingfield and Southwell, has made an offer to the 59 British tracks to acquire a 10-year licence for all interactive media rights associated with racing. In a statement, Arena said that it would guarantee a minimum payment of £178m for the rights.

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