By ADAM PENGILLY

The Australian Hotels Association has labelled the value of vision of Victorian races as “zero”, warning pubs and clubs across the country will resist any move to be charged for the vision now Racing Victoria has aligned with Seven West Media. 

In a letter to members and obtained by Fairfax Media, AHA and Victorian president Peter Burnett said his organisation would oppose its thousands of clubs and pubs with a TAB service paying a rights fee to Tabcorp to screen Victorian racing.

Tabcorp has traditionally negotiated a fee for Victorian racing to be shown on its broadcasting arm Sky Channel and then collected a levy from licensed establishments who carried their vision.

  

The Australian Hotels Association has labelled the value of vision of Victorian races as “zero”, warning pubs and clubs across the country will resist any move to be charged for the vision now Racing Victoria has aligned with Seven West Media. 

In a letter to members and obtained by Fairfax Media, AHA and Victorian president Peter Burnett said his organisation would oppose its thousands of clubs and pubs with a TAB service paying a rights fee to Tabcorp to screen Victorian racing.

Tabcorp has traditionally negotiated a fee for Victorian racing to be shown on its broadcasting arm Sky Channel and then collected a levy from licensed establishments who carried their vision.

But any swift return of Victorian vision to pubs and clubs throughout the country appears remote – despite Racing Victoria and Tabcorp tentatively resuming negotiations this week – after the AHA’s broadside.

“The AHA believes that the fair value for Victorian thoroughbred vision is now zero,” Burnett said in a letter to AHA members.

“We have been clear with the racing industry and with Tabcorp that, given the arrangements with Seven West Media to show racing on free to air television, our members are no longer prepared to pay for Victorian thoroughbred vision as part of their Sky package. Clubs Australia supports our decision.”

Tabcorp is understood to have made an offer to Racing Victoria to restore vision to its main platforms on Sky Racing 1 and Sky Racing 2 at no cost. It has promised the AHA the savings will be passed on to its members.

But any monetary offer forthcoming from Tabcorp for a longer-term arrangement will be minimal given they’ve lost day-to-day exclusivity.

Racing Victoria chief executive Bernard Saundry is hopeful of having Victorian racing back on Sky Channel within a fortnight.

The partial blackout of Victorian races ended on Friday when Seven West Media screened Racing Victoria’s digital feed of the Pakenham meeting via Channel 78.

Pictures of Victorian racing had been restricted to the state’s 92 TAB retail agencies and feeds through Racing Victoria’s own digital platform – as well as to customers of corporate bookmakers Sportsbet and Crownbet – for the past fortnight.

It was the result of Tabcorp pulling the plug on Victorian vision almost a fortnight ago when Racing Victoria announced its preferred long-term broadcaster was Seven West Media.

Channel 78 was only carried into metropolitan homes meaning 30 per cent of households still had to resort to digital platforms to watch the meeting from Victoria’s newest track.

The Racing.com coverage was only established in the wake TVN’s demise in March to maintain a showcase coverage of Victorian racing while the long-term future of the rights was decided.

Burnett stressed the Victorian racing industry’s primary revenue stream was from its joint venture with Tabcorp and the “hundreds of millions of dollars” pub TABs poured back into the code.

“I simply can’t understand why Racing Victoria is steering punters away from our pub TAB network that pays the racing industry and government far higher returns than corporate bookmakers,” Burnett wrote.

“The sad thing in this current dispute is that once again the people that are hurting most now are the publicans and punters in country areas. 

“This is unbelievable given the vast majority of racing participants such as race clubs, trainers and jockeys live outside city areas.”