C4 deal under threat as smaller racecourses demand bigger share

The UK’s smaller racecourses are threatening to scupper the Channel 4 consortium’s &£225m bid for TV rights unless they are given a bigger share of the deal – which must be signed by the end of July.

The C4 consortium – which includes NTL and BBC – started negotiations with the top racecourses, the so-called “Super 12s”, in February over the broadcast and interactive betting rights.

The offer, which expires next month, is dependant on the 47 smaller courses signing up, but they are holding out for a better deal.

The group has received a number of separate offers – one of up to &£80m – but the Super 12 negotiating team are attempting to keep them in the C4 deal.

Kim Deshayes, chief executive of the Super 12s and former managing director of Newmarket, says: “The C4 deal would be a massive boost for the whole of racing, not just the Super 12 racecourses. It will provide us with a dedicated racing channel, but we need all the courses on board for it to succeed.”

If the deal collapses, it could open the way for Sky to return to the negotiations. The Rupert Murdoch-owned channel’s bid was turned down over sponsors’ fears that a move off terrestrial TV would slash racing’s potential audience (MW February 3).

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