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RMG delays rights announcement as ITV challenges Channel 4

Racecourse Media Group, the holding company responsible for media and data rights involving 34 of the UK’s premier racecourses, is to delay the announcement of its next cycle of domestic rights until the New Year, with rival commercial broadcasters ITV and Channel 4 going head-to-head, according to the Daily Mail newspaper.

The next cycle of rights will run for four years, from 2017 to 2020.

Channel 4 has long been associated with coverage of horse racing in the UK, but a 25 per-cent drop in viewing figures over the past three years has raised doubts over whether it will retain rights.

In response, Channel 4 has committed to 90 days of racing coverage in 2016 and has also struck a deal with Aintree Racecourse to delay the start of UK showpiece the Grand National by an hour in an effort to increase television audience figures.

However, after losing out on rights to the Uefa Champions League European club football competition, ITV could be in a position to commit more funds to racing rights, the newspaper said. Channel 4’s current four-year deal, due to expire next year, is said to be worth a total of £15m (€20.7m/$22.5m).