Ban on sponsors lifted after racecard victory - Press Gazette

Ban on sponsors lifted after racecard victory

Newspapers no longer face ahike in racecard fees

Sponsors’ names are back on racecards in the national press after a climbdown by the British Horseracing Board over its demands to drastically raise the fees for their reproduction.

Greg Nicholls, chief executive of BHB, telephoned  Newspapers Publishers’ Association director Steve Oram last Friday to tell him the board’s policy had changed.

"The BHB will extend the current licensing arrangements in respect of the use of racecards by newspapers until March 2007," said Nicholls.

That, as far as the NPA was concerned, was an assurance that the board was not going to pursue its demands to hike fees to the industry from £40,000 a year to £1.2m.

Its reply ran: "The NPA notes and acknowledges the BHB press policy and its members will take this into account in their future individual dealings with BHB. As far as the NPA is concerned, the matter is now closed."

Nicholls intervened after the NPA gave a blunt answer to amended proposals sent to it by the BHB, saying it would not accept anything other than the status quo, and cancelling a meeting with the board planned for Thursday. The board was still seeking new terms and wanted restrictions on editors’ freedom to remove racecards from their pages.

But Oram told Press Gazette: "We would certainly not accept any constraints on editorial freedom. It is an editor’s discretion to put whatever he wants in the paper, whenever he wants. The NPA’s position will not change."

After Nicholls’s phone call, Oram said: "It’s a matter of regret that the issue was raised in the first place but we are satisfied that good sense has prevailed."

The newspapers’ battle to resist the demands of the BHB was supported by the Racecourse Association, the sponsors’ organisation and punters.

lRacing Post journalists won two of the awards at the Horserace Writers’ and Photographers’ Association Derby Awards luncheon.

Northern correspondent Tom O’Ryan won the Clive Graham trophy for journalist of the year and Edward Whitaker was named photographer of the year.

By Jean Morgan