Rod Nicholson — Sunday Herald Sun
VICTORIAN racing will sign a deal with the Seven Network within days.
The Herald Sun understands that the Victoria Racing Club, Melbourne Racing Club, Moonee Valley Racing Club and Country Racing Victoria have agreed with Racing Victoria’s preference to link up with the Seven Network rather than commit long-term to the Tabcorp-owned SkyChannel.
The decision will mean that Tabcorp will black out all Victorian racing on SkyChannel from Tuesday.
Racing Victoria on Saturday was working on “fine print” before announcing a deal — ironically a day after the Seven Network added a new channel 78 to its suite of outlets.
The Herald Sun understands the clubs have required clarification before signing of a guarantee of their future funding distribution from wagering revenue.
The clubs believe the Seven Network is the best way to promote Victorian racing on free-to-air television to attract a new audience.
They are prepared to risk a blackout on SkyChannel as they believe once they have a free-to-air contract it will be able to regain vision on Sky to help the Tabcorp/Racing Victoria wagering partnership — greatly dependent on vision of Victorian racing — to continue record financial rewards.
However there is concern among clubs that passing on the media rights to Racing Victoria without a guarantee of future funding could take control out of the clubs’ hands.
The Herald Sun believes the powerful Victoria Racing Club, which runs the famed Flemington spring carnival, is happy to sign with the Seven Network provided it has a guarantee of its future funds from wagering distribution.
An insider told the Herald Sun: “We don’t want to hand all the power to Racing Victoria and not have some guarantee of our share of future funding. Otherwise we would be here merely to open the gates while RV controls all the money revenues.”
Tabcorp has maintained hope the clubs will reject Racing Victoria’s preferred option.
All clubs met with Racing Victoria last week to agree to the move to Seven but they also pointed out the need for requirements to be met — including funding guarantees.