Seven Network to race ahead with Victorian deal
ROD NICHOLSON – Herald Sun
VICTORIAN racing should be locked into a new era with the Seven Network this week.
Negotiations will continue to sell non-exclusive rights to Sky Channel to telecast Victorian races.
Racing Victoria has told the Victorian race clubs that it prefers a free-to-air deal with Seven over a full-scale return to Sky Channel.
The clubs — Melbourne Racing Club, Victoria Racing Club, Moonee Valley Racing Club and Country Racing Victoria — that own the commercial rights are expected to rubber stamp the proposal.
The MRC, which runs Caulfield, Sandown and Mornington, was an unabashed supporter of the free-to-air plan, which combined with Sky Channel coverage would expose racing to millions of potential new customers.
Country Racing Victoria and Moonee Valley were expected to take their leads from RVL.
The VRC, which runs Flemington, has a harmonious working relationship with Seven, which broadcasts the four days of the Flemington carnival along with other major days during the season.
The VRC said in a statement: “We are considering our position on the VRC’s media rights with the view to ensuring the best outcome for the club and the Victorian racing industry.”
All club boards were prepared for RVL’s decision and were expected to call board meetings this week to decide.
RVL was keen for the new telecast to start as soon as possible and be running smoothly well before the spring carnival.
If given the green light to accept the Seven deal, RVL will negotiate with Sky for Victorian racing to continue to be shown on its channels in pubs and clubs.
Sky recently put forward a revised offer believed to be $30 million a year to show Victorian racing, but RVL chairman David Moodie said that the offer was “not necessarily a game changer”.
RVL preferred to seize the opportunity of free-to-air coverage and an expansion of racing’s exposure.
Although it is suggested Seven’s setup costs could reach $10 million in the first year, racing officials believe the costs can be offset by advertising revenue as well as on-selling non-exclusive rights to Sky.
The TAB told the Herald Sun it would not comment until later this week after it assessed its position.
Moodie said people should not confuse RVL’s outstanding working relationship with the TAB in a wagering partnership with “the totally separate issue of media rights”.
Corporate bookmakers, barred from advertising on the TAB-owned Sky, welcomed RVL’s push towards Seven because it would enable them to advertise.