Turf TV

What was the client issue?

In 2007 British racecourse owners found themselves embroiled in complex litigation over media rights. Historically, televised horseracing in betting shops had been provided by broadcaster SIS on behalf of bookmakers William Hill, Ladbrokes and BetFred, and the associated media rights company BAGS. Through AMRAC, the racecourses launched a rival service, Turf TV, to betting shops. The bookmakers and BAGS responded by suing the bookmakers for price-fixing, collective selling and foreclosure.

How did we help the client solve it?

We analysed whether Turf TV’s business structure was restrictive of competition and therefore in breach of competition law. An expert report covered market definition, market entry, the economics of media rights, consumer welfare effects, natural monopoly, collective selling and exclusive contracts. The High Court dismissed the case and accordingly Turf TV was free to broadcast in UK and Irish betting shops.

Why was the outcome compelling for the client?

Just how compelling Oxera’s contribution case was became clear when the bookermakers took the matter to the Court of Appeal. It ruled in AMRAC’s favour, endorsing the High Court position that AMRAC did not break competition law by obtaining the rights to TV coverage for distribution into betting shops. The appeal judgment also found in favour of AMRAC on the one aspect of the High Court judgment that AMRAC had objected to, agreeing with the evidence in Oxera’s original High Court report.