Jenny - Clean

IT’S a holding pattern that will become a test pattern, at least for TVN.

MATT STEWART reports in the HERLAD SUN that Victoria’s racing clubs, left stranded when NSW walked away from TVN and hopped into bed with SKY, are continuing to explore a range of broadcast options, from digital via corporate bookmakers to an ambitious pitch to Channel 7.

Initial hopes to resurrect flagging, debt-riddled TVN have been dashed with the realisation that, without the financial and exposure benefits of signing up with SKY, the offerings of a Victorian-only TVN would have been as visually engrossing as a pot plant.

Channel 7 would be a dream partner for Victoria and its desperate desire to pitch racing to a new, broader audience but TVN used to pay Seven to broadcast feature races.

Why would Seven now want to start paying for the same privilege?

These are the challenges for Victoria as it prepares to read the last rights to TVN, which many observers regarded as a study in excess and undelivered promises.

Others say it provided a valuable gourmet service that SKY, with its wall-to-wall culture, will be unable to replicate, even on its “premium’’ channel.

One club executive said TVN’s greatest flaw was that it failed to expand racing’s audience quickly enough.

After 10 years, TVN only ever attracted 40 per cent of the racing audience yet paid exorbitant wages (compared to SKY) and consultancy fees.

Racing Victoria on Wednesday issued a statement which said the story had not really changed since the split from NSW on Christmas Eve.

RVL chairman Rob Roulston said RVL and the other clubs were working behind the scenes to sort out broadcasting opportunities for Victorian racing.

There are two inevitables, and one ensures the other.

TVN will be dead within weeks, probably straight after the Blue Diamond Stakes.

Under a new deal between the Victorian clubs and SKY, the Victorian pictures will become part of what was SKY World, which will offer the “premium’’ service of Sydney and Melbourne plus features from Adelaide and Brisbane.

TVN’s on air, online and production staff have been nervous for months, and quite rightly. A TAB official on Wednesday offered them a bleak outlook, saying the absorption of on air staff to SKY (and presumably RV’s new media arm would be next to zero because “SKY is close to capacity’’. Not one TVN staffer has been wooed or even contacted by SKY.

Many also fear that SKY’s version of premium might not be the same as TVN’s.

SKY has always had a formal in-studio approach to coverage, whereas TVN’s was on track and very grassroots.

SKY will push for more content, more meetings, to the point where its feature channel isn’t quite wall-to-wall, but not premium either.

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