Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Racing TV says new Gambling Regulation bill will make broadcasting in Ireland unviable

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The Racing TV (RTV) channel that shows Irish racing behind a paywall has insisted it remains unviable for it to continue broadcasting in Ireland if the government’s Gambling Regulation Bill comes into law unchanged.

A ban on gambling advertising between 5.30am and 9pm has led to both RTV and the Sky Sports Racing channel to say their businesses will be unviable in this country if they don’t get an exemption from the legislation as it stands.

The bill has been passed through the Dáil but still must go through the Seanad. Late alterations that could prevent a potential scenario where Irish racing is available to view anywhere in the world except Ireland is still possible although the Government appears steadfast on maintaining the ban.

Various racing organisations have said such a move would be disastrous for the sport and Horse Racing Ireland’s chief executive Suzanne Eade has said the sport’s ruling body cannot allow pictures not to be broadcast here.

However, a weekend report by the Irish Field that any shortfall from betting advertising might be made up by more appearances and contributions to TV coverage by bookmaker representatives was ruled out by RTV which pointed out that any such move breached broadcasting rules in Britain.

“Having bookmakers’ contributions on the channel as a replacement for ads is completely against the regulator Ofcom’s advertising regulations. We can categorically say that no deals have been reached with bookmaker partners on this,” RTV commented in a statement.

It added: “The drafting of the bill as it stands makes it unviable for Racing TV to continue broadcasting in Ireland.”

There was also silence from Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) on the report on Sunday.

HRI and the Association of Irish Racecourses last year completed a €47 million per year media rights deal with Racecourse Media Group which owns RTV. It covered streaming and betting shop services as well as direct to home coverage through RTV and operates for five years.

Both HRI and RTV have underlined their desire to get the legislation amended before it becomes law. Exemptions from advertising restrictions for specialist racing channels operate in other jurisdictions including Australia.

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