The long-running stoush over Victorian horse racing has entered a new stage with the AHA calling for a moratorium on fees to venues.

The agreement between Tabcorp and the Victorian thoroughbred racing industry expired 31 December, 2012, and has been in negotiation since.

In recent bulletins, Tabcorp noted that the interim broadcasting arrangement was due to expire on 15 June and that it had not received a decision by Racing Victoria Limited (RVL) in regards to its Formal Offer made 1 June, 2015.

The Formal Offer detailed significant monetary benefits, including the option for up to 44 meetings per year to be broadcast on free-to-air television.

However, RVL announced on 6 June it was recommending to its racing clubs that its preferred outcome was to partner with Seven West Media. This resulted in a degree of purgatory for Victorian race coverage, with Seven West’s Channel 78 only carried in metropolitan areas and at least 30 per cent of the audience only able to view through the stop-gap coverage.

On Friday the Australian Hotels Association weighed in, declaring the coverage to be effectively worthless to licensed venues and plans for resistance to broadcast fees.

“The AHA believes that the fair value for Victorian thoroughbred vision is now zero,” said AHA President Peter Burnett in a letter to members.

“We have been clear with the racing industry and with Tabcorp that, given the arrangements with Seven West Media to show racing on free to air television, our members are no longer prepared to pay for Victorian thoroughbred vision as part of their Sky package. Clubs Australia supports our decision.”

Meanwhile, Tabcorp is mounting its own battle plan, flanking the RVL with a renewed sponsorship agreement and partnership with the principal and official representative organisation for horse trainers nationally, the Australian Trainers Association.

“Our feedback suggests our alliance with Tabcorp has been well received, most importantly in understanding and reiterating the critical importance and value of the role that Tabcorp plays as the most significant provider of revenue to racing in Australia,” declared ATA Victorian President Robbie Griffiths.

Traditionally, Tabcorp has paid to broadcast Victorian racing on Sky Channel and collected a levy from licensed establishments that carried it.

Tabcorp contributed $735 million to racing funding in 2013/14, and broadcasts to 5,400 commercial outlets in Australia, covering more than 90,000 races a year.

Some negotiations continue between Tabcorp and RVL, with the racing body hopeful of returning to Sky Channel within weeks. Tabcorp has reputedly offered this to RVL at no cost, with savings passed on to venues.

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