The BBC yesterday confirmed an addition to its decision to withdraw from coverage of racing from next year. The organisation had held a contract with France-Galop, under which it has broadcast the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe for the last ten years.
Yesterday the BBC confirmed it would not be seeking to extend that contract, which came to an end after last year’s race. As a result, although At The Races and Racing UK will show the race as part of their contracts with French racing, there is the possibility that the race will not be available on terrestrial television.
It’s not immediately clear whether Channel 4 will step into the breach, although you would think it likely. The Arc would be a fine addition to a portfolio that from next year will include the Grand National, Royal Ascot and the Derby. And they were keen lat year to take over the race from the BBC. Channel 4 have screened the Arc in the past; they had a run of nine years beginning with the victory of Dancing Brave in 1986.
A spokesperson for Channel 4 said, “We are aware of the position regarding the Arc and it is something that is on our agenda.”
One factor that could influence future activity, though it should have no bearing at all, is the relationship between Jamie Aitchison, Cannel 4’s head of sport and France-Galop. Their media group, IMG, is one of the five bidders for production rights of racing for Channel 4 from next year, and Aitchison has a leading role in the discussions around this.
Whatever happens about that, it would be a significant loss if the Arc were only broadcast on subscription channels, and it is to be hoped that a deal can be worked out to enable Channel 4 to cover the meeting at Longchamp in October.