Wednesday, 6 February 2019
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Horse Racing Ireland
53. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he had discussions with an organisation (details supplied) prior to its decision in 2016 to sell broadcast rights to a company; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52111/18]
Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) is a commercial State Body responsible for the overall administration, promotion and development of the horse racing industry.
The question the Deputy has raised is solely an operational matter for HRI ,and I had no involvement in the matter.
HRI have informed me that new media rights arrangements represent a positive move for Irish racing and provide guarantees regarding income for racecourses up to 2023 during a time of great uncertainty, not least in the context of Brexit. The broadcasting of Irish racing by the new service provider commenced on 1 January 2019.
The arrangements were approved by all of the rights holders, which include 26 racecourses and Horse Racing Ireland. The rights were put out to a formal tender process, and the previous provider of direct to home television rights "At The Races" was part of a consortium which bid unsuccessfully for the rights. The successful bidder was a company called Sports Information Services (SIS) with whom Irish racing has had a positive and fruitful business relationship since 1987.
The tender was evaluated comprehensively and the various options were given detailed consideration before the decision was made to proceed with the proposal submitted by Sports Information Services.
On the question of the price of the service, HRI have informed my department that there is a misconception that the previous coverage of Irish racing was free. In fact, access to "At The Races" only came as part of a subscription to SKY television, so it is important to compare like for like.
The price of the new channel will be subject to a number of discounts and special offers which should ensure that it will be available at €12 per month.
At this price, HRI believe that this represents fair value to be able to access live coverage of every horse race run in Ireland in 2019.