04/24/2003 11:00PM

No mid-Atlantic, CDI deal


Negotiations between Churchill Downs Inc. and tracks in six mid-Atlantic states failed to produce a simulcast agreement by late Friday afternoon, adding Churchill's Calder Race Course to the blackout of the company's races.

Officials for Churchill and the organization that represents the mid-Atlantic tracks said negotiations had continued on Friday, but that the sides still had not settled on the rates that the mid-Atlantic tracks should pay for the signal from Churchill's racetracks. Negotiations were expected to continue on Saturday.

The lack of an agreement had already resulted in the blackout of Churchill-owned Hollywood Park's first three cards, on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, in six states: Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia. Calder began its spring meet on Friday, and Churchill was scheduled to start its spring meet on Saturday.

The lack of a contract threatens the ability of horseplayers in the six states to bet on the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby, scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

Officials for the mid-Atlantic tracks, which negotiate simulcast contracts collectively, maintain that Churchill is charging more for its signals than in the group's previous three-year agreement. Churchill officials declined to discuss specifics of the negotiations.

Churchill had offered to allow the mid-Atlantic tracks to take bets on Hollywood through Friday as the negotiations continued, but the tracks declined. The executive director of the mid-Atlantic cooperative, Martin Lieberman, said the tracks did not want to have to shut off the Hollywood signal after initially offering it.