01/23/2002 1:00AM

TVG in California cable deal


Television Games Network, the 24-hour horse racing broadcast and wagering system, will be broadcast over digital cable systems in several affluent communities in Southern California, company officials said Wednesday.

The network will be available on the systems within "several weeks" of TVG receiving approval to accept telephone wagers in California, according to Chip Tuttle, a TVG spokesman. The California Horse Racing Board was scheduled to hold a hearing on license applications from TVG and other companies on Thursday, although it was unclear Wednesday if the CHRB would approve any licenses at the meeting.

"Once we're approved, they will be just as anxious to launch us on their systems as we will be here at TVG," Tuttle said.

TVG, currently available over the Dish satellite system and through cable systems in Louisville, Lexington, and Baltimore, will be available over Adelphia Communications-owned systems in approximately 350,000 homes in Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Hermosa Beach, La Habra, and Seal Beach, Tuttle said.

Telephone wagering was legalized in California last year, but companies cannot accept wagers from California residents until being licensed by the CHRB, a process that could take several months, officials said this week.

In part to gain support from regulators and horsemen, TVG officials have been assuring California tracks and horsemen that the network would be widely distributed in the state.

TVG, owned by Gemstar-TV Guide, has exclusive contracts to broadcast races from Hollywood Park, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Oak Tree at Santa Anita, and Los Alamitos in California, as well as 21 tracks in other states. The network is unable to broadcast races from Santa Anita Park's winter meet and Golden Gate Fields and Bay Meadows Race Course in northern California, tracks that are owned by business rival Magna Entertainment.