BBC, NTL may board TV horse racing consortium

LONDON — Go Racing, the consortium comprised of Channel 4, satcaster BSkyB and racecourse owner Arena Leisure, plans to launch a pay-TV horse racing channel in April 2002 in a deal worth up to £400 million ($560 million).

A final agreement with the U.K.’s race courses is expected to come later this week.

As well, the BBC has a 30-day option to take a 5% stake in Go Racing. Premium TV, a subsid of cabler NTL, has an option for 10%.

The channel — for which the business plan is betting — will be carried by Sky Digital, a digital terrestrial TV service from C4 and NTL.

Go Racing has bid $175 million for the TV rights to U.K. horse racing for ten years and pledged $112 million to market the sport.

The consortium has promised the industry a minimum of $273 million over the next 10 years, with a predicted return to the sector of $1 billion.

One condition on the deal is Arena raising $84 million in backing by the end of June. The company is expected to announce plans to raise $119 million in funding through a share offering.

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