|The future of televised horse racing has been thrown into doubt after British network Channel 4 threatened to pull the plug on its coverage at the end of next year.|
The loss-making broadcasts may be pulled unless the sport helps to fund the television rights and production costs.
'Sadly, racing hardly attracts the younger viewer,” said Channel 4’s head of sport David Kerr. “Therefore it is not particularly attractive to advertisers.”
Another spokesman for the channel added: 'When a race is on terrestrial TV, betting goes up 250%. The people who really benefit from terrestrial coverage are the bookmakers. So why should we be making a loss on this to fund other people's profits?'
The channel began showing racing at weekends in October the following year, when ITV's Saturday afternoon show, World of Sport, dropped its ITV Seven horse racing coverage.
Since ITV dropped its Seven horse racing coverage, Channel 4 has become synonymous with the sport, having access to some of the biggest courses including Cheltenham, Newmarket, Epsom and Goodwood.
Channel 4 will be renegotiating the rights and contracts for horse racing, which run to the end of 2005, over the next three months.