ITV, whose £30m venture into live coverage of horse racing starts on 1 January, has upset some of the sport’s print journalists by decreeing that they stay out of camera shot in winners’ enclosures.
At big meetings such as Cheltenham, the Grand National, Epsom Derby and Royal Ascot – print, online and television cameramen and interviewers jostle around winning jockeys, trainers or owners, straining to hear and record quotes.
But yesterday the Racecourse Association issued a statement saying: “In the immediate post-race scenario, ITV want a clean shot of any connections being interviewed, specifically not including journalists putting microphones in shot, nor standing in shot during such interviews.”
Channel 4, whose racing coverage is being replaced by ITV from New Year’s Day, had at one time hoped to gain clear priority for their crews in winners’ enclosures but eventually had to compromise.
Simon Rowlands, a leading turf freelance, tweeted on Thursday: “ITV are trying to get rid of the ancient tradition of Duvalling in post-race interviews.” Rowlands was referring to Claude Duval, The Sun’s doyen racing writer who retired in September.
ITV is hoping to mollify print journalists by offering to supply them with prompt transcripts of the TV interviews, but many big races are now being run later and later on Saturday afternoons – at the request of television executives – and print and online reporters are working to extremely tight deadlines.
ITV signed its four-year deal, worth more than £30m, with the racing industry seven months ago, and is taking over from IMG, which has produced Channel 4’s coverage since 2013.
Among those signed up by ITV are Ed Chamberlin, who has been lured from Sky Sports football; Francesca Cumani, the daughter of a Derby-winning trainer, and former champion jumps jockey Tony McCoy.
An ITV spokesperson said: “In line with television coverage of other major sports, we believe viewers will benefit from post-race interviews being conducted between the television interviewer and interviewees within their own space so that reactions can be captured as clearly as possible in those important moments.”