attheraces announces that at midnight on 29 March 2004, the Media Rights Agreement (‘MRA’) with 49 racecourses was terminated as a consequence of a failure to agree revised commercial terms following a reduction in the Tote’s take-out rate. Despite the efforts of attheraces, new rights deals with the UK racecourses and the BHB have not yet been secured. In accordance with the provisions of the MRA, attheraces has, therefore, commenced procedures to pursue the contractual rebates from the 49 racecourses involved. Such rebates are expected to exceed £50 million.
It is with regret that, from the morning, attheraces will cease broadcasting UK horseracing to the UK public.
Since its inception in May 2002 attheraces has broadened the appeal of horseracing to the armchair viewer, increasing the number of viewers from less than 30,000 subscribers under the old Racing Channel to a record
weekly audience of 850,000 people. Furthermore, the growth in racecourse attendance figures to record levels contrast sharply with fears expressed by many that wall to wall racing coverage would decrease attendances.
Over a short period of time attheraces has provided all racing supporters with an unprecedented opportunity to watch the breadth of British racing. It has also enabled all those involved in the sport to reap considerable benefit from the widespread media attention and on-course sponsorship and advertising opportunities. It is understood that attheraces has also helped fuel the growth in the Levy as a consequence of the surge in telephone and online betting opportunities offered by bookmakers and betting exchanges for live racing.
attheraces has also injected nearly £100 million in rights payments and sponsorship to the racecourses and the British Horseracing Board (‘BHB’) which has contributed to certain of the improvements carried out at Britain’s racecourses.
attheraces will continue to offer viewers the opportunity to watch and bet on American horseracing in the evenings, and will continue to offer an opportunity to bet on UK horseracing, via the red button, www.attheraces.co.uk and on 0800-0838383, albeit we no longer have the rights to broadcast the races live.
Ian Hogg, Managing Director of attheraces, said: ‘attheraces has undoubtedly contributed much to the resurgence of horseracing over recent years. Whilst we are extremely disappointed to have to terminate the MRA, we continue to negotiate with those parties who are keen to preserve their current position and build upon the strengths that attheraces offers in taking British horseracing to the widest possible audience.’
For further information please contact:
Ian Hogg on 020 7291 1670 or 07771 522662
Tom Earl on 020 7291 1674 or 07973 150 036