RACING’S latest television war has already claimed a high profile casualty — the punter.
Because the punter is the one getting hurt after Racing Victoria decided to go it their way on a digital free-to-air channel rather than align themselves with the rest of the racing industry on Sky Racing.
The selfishness of this move was highlighted last Saturday when Racing Victoria made an 11th hour decision to change their race times for Caulfield so there was a bigger gap to the next race at Donald.
This seems fair enough except Caulfield was originally programmed to be about 15 minutes before Rosehill but the amended times meant there was only seven minutes between the two prime racing venues.
Often Caulfield races ran quite late meaning they cut further into the preview time for Rosehill. This practice only poses more questions.
Why did Racing Victoria alter Caulfield race times? Couldn’t the race times for Donald only be amended? As a professional courtesy, why weren’t the other states racing bodies informed of the time changes? Was this move designed to fragment viewers between Channel 78 and the Sky Racing channels? Won’t the split vision impact wagering turnover nationally?
There will be those suggesting Tabcorp, owners of Sky Racing, should immediately agree to restore Victorian racing to the wall-to-wall channel.
But why should Tabcorp now pay Racing Victoria for the vision rights when that organisation is paying another television carrier to show their racing?
The only certainty with this complex issue is that punters are going to have to get used to the split vision because this impasse is unlikely to be resolved soon.