O’Leary still fears re­duced Ir­ish cov­er­age

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Racing - BRIAN O’CON­NOR

Ryanair chief ex­ec­u­tive Michael O’Leary has warned against the cov­er­age of Ir­ish rac­ing be­ing “shoved down some in­ter­net pipe” as a re­sult of a new tele­vi­sion deal which starts on Jan­uary 1st.

Rac­ing UK is set to take over the broad­cast­ing of Ir­ish rac­ing from At The Races next year, and at the week­end re­leased pro­posed cov­er­age de­tails un­der a re­branded Rac­ing TV la­bel.

The move to a sub­scrip­tion chan­nel has proved con­tro­ver­sial since it was an­nounced last Fe­bru­ary. At that time O’Leary de­scribed it as a ret­ro­grade step which would be bad for Ir­ish rac­ing.

Yes­ter­day Ire­land’s cham­pion owner main­tained that was still his view, but in­sisted the deal was com­plete and it was time now to make the best of it.

Rel­e­gated

Wide­spread fears that Ir­ish rac­ing will be rel­e­gated in pri­or­ity next year won’t have eased with Rac­ing UK ’s an­nounce­ment that up to 15 days will only be avail­able on­line on an extra dig­i­tal plat­form.

“Any­thing that in­volves less air time for Ir­ish rac­ing is gen­er­ally bad for Ir­ish rac­ing. Now, un­for­tu­nately, what­ever Rac­ing TV does some Ir­ish meet­ings are go­ing to be cov­ered on a lap­top,” O’Leary said.

“Hope­fully they will do a rea­son­able job pro­mot­ing the main rac­ing. Your fear is that apart from the big days, Ir­ish rac­ing will be sub­servient to anal­y­sis of Fon­twell, Fak­en­ham and all that stuff.

“But there’s no point op­pos­ing it: if that’s the way it’s go­ing, that’s the way it’s go­ing. There re­ally isn’t much HRI [Horse Rac­ing Ire­land] can do about it.

“They’ve signed up a tele­vi­sion con­tract. That tele­vi­sion con­tract has moved to Rac­ing TV. I think we’re duty bound to give a plat­form and a rea­son­able amount of time.

“The one thing in favour of Ir­ish rac­ing is that we run our big days on Sun­day, so that should be rea­son­ably well cov­ered be­cause the best English rac­ing tends not to hap­pen on Sun­day.

In­ter­net pipe

Michael O’Leary: “We need to stop whin­ing about it and let’s get on with it”

“The worry is the cov­er­age of Thurles on Thurs­day and the in­dus­try day at Fairy­house on a Tues­day – what kind of cov­er­age will that get? It will be im­por­tant that Ir­ish rac­ing con­tin­ues to be on a TV chan­nel and not shoved down some in­ter­net pipe.

“But it’s like ev­ery­thing else, ev­ery­one was op­posed to Sky when it came in and they’ve trans­formed foot­ball. At The Races did a phe­nom­e­nal job pro­mot­ing Ir­ish rac­ing. But it’s gone. We need to stop whin­ing about it and let’s get on with it.”

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