02/15/2007 12:00AM

TVG may not carry Churchill


Television Games Network, the horse racing broadcasting and wagering company, does not expect to carry signals from the tracks owned by Churchill Downs Inc. after the company's existing contracts expire later this year and in 2008, TVG said in a statement issued Thursday.

TVG officials said the contracts expire at different times in 2007 and 2008.

Bill Carstanjen, Churchill's chief development officer, said Thursday that Churchill has been in confidential talks with TVG for several months.

"We are fully exploring our options going forward with regards to television and account-wagering rights," Carstanjen said. "We will make our plans public in the near future."

Churchill's tracks, which include Arlington Park outside Chicago, Calder Race Course in Miami, Churchill Downs in Louisville, and Fair Grounds racetrack in New Orleans, form a core component of TVG's programming.

Relations between Churchill and TVG soured last year because of TVG's decision to simulcast its broadcast, including Churchill's signals, on a British pay-television channel, Attheraces. The broadcasts compete with a British horse racing channel founded by Churchill, its U.S. competitor, Magna Entertainment Corp., and a British company, and led Churchill to file a lawsuit against TVG late last year, claiming that its contracts with TVG did not include international rights.

A TVG spokesman said that the company would have no comment beyond its statement.

TVG's contract with Churchill Downs expires before the Louisville track's spring meet this year. Its contract with Fair Grounds expires after the track's current meet ends, the Arlington contract expires this summer during the track's meet, and the Calder contract expires in 2008.

Because of the British racing partnership between the companies, there is speculation that Churchill will soon announce a partnership with Magna's domestic racing channel, HRTV, and its account-wagering service, XpressBet. Even before Churchill filed the lawsuit against TVG, company officials had said they were considering ending their exclusive arrangement with TVG.