SA Horseracing Coverage Rights Dispute Goes up A Notch

horse-racing-logo The dispute between interest groups over horseracing broadcasting rights in South Africa has reached new levels, with several of them releasing press statements about the issue and international parties now joining the debate. South African bookmakers are strongly condemning Tellytrack, partly owned by Phumelela, for clamping down on their businesses in a bid by the group to protect its commercial licenses.

Bookmakers have turned recently to the Gauteng Gambling Board, demanding that Tellytrack stop its clamp down on their businesses, saying that they should be allowed access to local racing telecast based on current license conditions, ie. on a ‘cost recovery basis’. Tellytrack, however, is demanding that these businesses purchase an expensive commercial license owned by Tellytrack in order to broadcast races from its racetracks and, not doing so, could lead to court action against the bookmakers.

Now, the international front has been brought into the arena with the news that GBI Racing, supplier of British a nd Irish racing to international markets, has issued a statement saying that local bookmakers are breaching its copyright by broadcasting British and Irish racing in their businesses.

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“It has come to our attention that certain bookmakers, including Marshalls World of Sport, Keith Ho BetXchange, Sepels Best Bets and certain branches of Hollywoodbets, have been displaying live British thoroughbred horse racing in their betting shops without being authorised to do so,” noted the group in its press release. “The display of British racing outside of the UK is licensed exclusively to GBI Racing by Racing UK and Attheraces. GBI Racing in turn has authorized Tellytrack to sub-license betting operators to display British racing in betting shops in South Africa. The display of British racing in betting shops in South Africa without a valid sub-license to do so constitutes a breach of our rights (including copyright). A breach of copyright has civil as well as criminal consequences.”

GBI stated that South African bookmakers who broadcast British racing without a valid license have to cease doing so immediately. If not, it threatens, GBI will take all steps within the legal framework to stop them.

Tellytrack, a joint venture between Phumelela, Gold Circle and Kenilworth Racing is currently South Africa’s exclusive TV channel and is beamed live to TAB outlets around the country. Tellytrack provides live coverage of South African horseracing and selected international racing such as races broadcast by GBI.