Cost-cutting appears to be behind the New Zealand Racing
Board's decision to stop broadcasting its Trackside
television channel on free to air TV.
Trackside is now broadcast on the Freeview and Sky TV
platforms, but from April will be available only via the pay
TV network - a move that has annoyed some punters.
"I reckon it's a bloody bad move," said punter Gil Brown.
"It's free and good publicity for the racing industry and now
they are forcing people to get it on a subscription basis."
The Herald understands a desire to save money on broadcasting
fees paid to Freeview and Kordia was behind the Racing
TAB executive manager Glen Patrick said that while money was
a factor, a plan to split content across two channels - which
will be rebranded Trackside 1 and Trackside 2 - could be
achieved if they were broadcast on the same platform.
"It is a better commercial deal and that was one factor - the
change aligns with our mandate under the Racing Act to
maximise returns to the racing industry," he said.
"But it is also about customer experience. Moving to Sky
enables us to deliver an enhanced content offering and aligns
with our strategic vision to make racing the best
entertainment business for New Zealand."
Mr Brown said the move was indicative of the declining
services the TAB offered to punters and he was annoyed there
had been no consultation with customers.
Freeview general manager Sam Irvine said the platform was
disappointed to lose the channel.
"There are a whole lot of people who don't want to pay for
Sky or can't afford it. They are the ones who are going to be
missing out," he said.
Sky corporate communications head Kirsty Way said Sky already
broadcast TAB TV in conjunction with Trackside and the
offerings of both channels would now be enhanced.
- Steve Deane of the New Zealand Herald