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TVN Prepares "Improved Offer" For Sky Channel

Tuesday, 26th July 2011

Thorough Vision (the racing channel owned by Victorian & NSW clubs) “is readying to lob an improved takeover offer for Tabcorp’s dominant Sky Channel as early as next month” reported The Australian Financial Review. “At stake is who controls ‘the clock’ of racing broadcasting, which determines how much attention & prime time coverage is devoted to any particular race code or meet.” The racing industry “is also eyeing additional recurring funding in the form of Sky’s $60 million in annual earnings”. The deadline for the 2 sides “to resolve the impasse is December 2012, when the media rights deal that allows Sky to broadcast Victorian & Sydney thoroughbred racing expires”. The newspaper noted: “If neither side blinks in the meantime, the industry faces the bleak prospect of a return to ‘split pictures’, which saw the 2 broadcast competing content to betting outlets, leading to plummeting wagering turnover.” TVN chairman Harold Mitchell (also executive chairman of Australia’s biggest media buyer Aegis) declared: “It won’t be me (who blinks). Racing needs to take control of its own media assets, it needs to get a fair share if its own profits & it will happen. If you’re looking for someone who’s proven very determined over a very long period of time, who knows Australian media at a senior level, you don’t have to look far.” TVN’s previous $420 million bid to buy Sky in March “was given short shrift by then Tabcorp chief Elmer Funke Kupper”, who said the company has “never contemplated & is not contemplating” selling the growing division; far from hanging out the “for sale” sign for Sky, Tabcorp “has been signing media rights deals with the smaller harness-racing & greyhound codes to top off the much bigger coup of a 10-year agreement with Queensland’s thoroughbred clubs stuck in January”. TVN & many in the industry “are pushing the argument that Sky’s $60 million in annual earnings should be funding the industry it generates the profit from, rather than lining Tabcorp’s pockets”. Stay tuned!

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