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BBC reduces horse racing coverage- 29 Jul 2009 00:00:00

The BBC is to significantly cut back on its horse racing coverage concentrating mainly on prestige events such as the Grand National and Derby as part of a new deal announced with racing authorities.

The BBC indicated at the end of last year that it was to cut back on its commitment to horse racing but, to the relief of the sport’s governing body, much of the coverage lost is to be picked up by Channel 4.

Currently the BBC shows around 29 days of racing a year, but from 2010 will reduce its coverage to a minimum of 13 days annually as part of a three-year deal with racecourse owners.

Channel 4 will show around 80 days of racing a year, in line with its current coverage, and will continue its Saturday morning show, The Morning Line.

The BBC deal includes five days from Royal Ascot, three days from the Grand National meeting at Aintree, and two days from the Epsom Derby.

Channel 4's coverage will continue to include the Cheltenham Festival, Glorious Goodwood and race meetings from Chester, York and Newmarket.

The broadcaster will also show major jump meetings from Ascot, Haydock Park and Uttoxeter, and will continue with its dedicated racing website.

The BBC will negotiate a separate deal with Ascot over coverage of the Shergar Cup in August on a year-by-year basis from next year.

Will Wyatt, the chairman of the Racecourse Media Group, the umbrella organisation for 30 racecourses, said: ‘It has been a long journey to arrive at this point but it has certainly been worth the effort from all parties.

‘It is particularly pleasing to see all the racecourses with different interests working together. There can't be many countries in the world that can boast more terrestrial coverage.

‘Despite the current economic climate, it shows that broadcasters and racing are willing to invest in the sport and guarantee its place as a mainstream sport on terrestrial TV. In return, racecourses will receive maximum exposure on a sustainable commercial basis.’

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