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Strikers force Italian horse racing channel off the air

Striking workers from Italy’s horse racing industry on Monday stormed the headquarters of the country’s racing channel, Unire TV, forcing the channel off the air. The action was in protest at the channel showing action from other European courses to fill the gaps in its schedule left by the strike.

According the Gazzetta dello Sport, around 200 people forced their way into the Rome building, damaging equipment and threatening staff. After a tense stand-off, Unire, the governing body for the sport in Italy, which runs the channel, agreed that 30 identified strikers could continue to occupy the premises until 12 January, when a demonstration is planned against government cuts in subsidies for the sport.

The strike was called last week to raise awareness of the dire financial situation that jockeys, stable owners and racecourses have found themselves in. Most of the problem is due to a rapid decline over the last two to three years in betting on horse racing in favour of other kinds of betting. Betting income is the major revenue stream for the sport.

Unire TV is carried on the Sky Italia satellite pay-television platform.