|A legal battle for the rights to screen UK horseracing in Russia has broken out between the UK Racecourse Association and Premier Telesports.|
The Racecourse Association (RCA) represents the UK's 59 racecourses, and currently has an exclusive contract with Premier Telesports, headed by George Walker. The contract was renewed for eight years in 1999, but the two sides have fallen out. RCA wants to terminate the contract and give the righs to Attheraces, a consortium owned by BSkyB, Arena Leisure and Channel 4.
The stakes are high, with rights for the whole of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries the prize. Walker's company currently provides live coverage to 150 outlets from Moscow to Kazakhstan. Plans were made to
provide a totalisator betting system - linked to the Tote in the UK - to 1000 franchises.
Walker says he sought to renegotiate his contract with the RCA after breaches in the exclusivity deal resulted in live coverage being beamed elsewhere in Russia in early 2000. Walker then stopped all payments to the RCA, and claims that he had the right to renegotiate payments if the
contract was broken.
Walker added: 'Litigation has been my last resort. I have ttried over the last 18 months to negotiate an agreement with the RCA and ATtheraces which not only secured the breaches which Premier Telesports were suffering but I
hoped would permit all concerned to continue to operate without breaching Premier's rights.'
The RCA claims that Walker owes $450,000 in overdue payments, but declined to comment on the details of the case.