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TAB buy back radio frequencies in $4m deal, paving way for live commentaries again

Racing fans can look forward to hearing live commentaries again with the surprise news today that TAB New Zealand has bought back its radio frequencies.

The TAB sold its Radio Trackside frequencies in April, 2021, as part of a number of drastic cost cutting moves, but has agreed to buy them back in a $4 million deal taking over the loss-making SENZ Digital & Audio.

The agreement will see TAB NZ take over the SENZ brand, website and app, along with 28 radio stations (across 29 frequencies), digital and audio content creation teams, and audio rights to several sports including cricket, netball, rugby league and Premier League football.

CEO Nick Roberts said TAB New Zealand was excited at the prospect of bringing more racing coverage to fans of the sport, but he did not say when commentaries would start.

“Once we complete the transaction (expected to be in February), we plan to work with our partners at Entain to address elements like the volume of live racing and how it is distributed.

“We certainly do see a world where racing fans can hear more live commentary than exists today.”

The TAB’s decision to can Radio Trackside was universally comdemned by both punters and industry participants but Interim Chair Anna Stove said the frequencies were sold to mitigate operating costs. TAB NZ would now be acquiring a much-improved asset worth more than NZ$2 million, along with the radio frequencies.

“The business has significantly expanded in the last two and a half years from a set of radio frequencies to a modern, multi-platform media business.”

Through its strategic partnership with Entain, it was now well placed to build on the progress and create a one-stop shop for news, views, and information for punters.

Entain Australia and New Zealand chief executive Dean Shannon congratulated TAB NZ on its move.

“It is a great outcome for all of those who are passionate about racing and sports in New Zealand. Radio remains a key pillar for engaging racing and sporting audiences.”

Sports Entertainment Group, run by Australian media mogul Craig Hutchison, will continue to provide content to SENZ and will earn commission on advertising revenue it secures for the NZ business.

SENZ lost NZ$5.98 million in the year to June 30, accounting for a majority of parent company SEG’s A$9.2 million deficit.

Our runners this week

Saturday night at Albion Park

Argyle.

Our runners this week: How our trainer rates them

Ray Green

Ray’s comments

Friday night at Auckland

Race 2: Frisco Bay
6.40pm

“He obviously needed the run last week. He pulled his way round the field and sat outside the leader but he couldn’t cop a run like that first-up and got tired. The ability is there, whether he’s fit enough or not we’ll find out. But I expect him to go well, the three draw is much better than last week.”

Race 2: Lenny Lincoln
6.40pm

“He’ll probably need a race but he’s capable of running a slot. He’s unlucky not to have won a race, all three of his seconds were good. He’s got a bit better with each of his trials this time in and he got home well last Saturday, after coming widest on the turn.”

Race 3: Obadiah Dragon
7.10pm

“The way the race was run at Cambridge last week, his effort wasn’t bad at all. Moni (Monika Ranger) said he felt strong and, if he’d been a few slots closer, he would have been right in it. He’ll be improved for the run.”

Race 3: Leo Lincoln
7.10pm

“He’s very consistent - he’s only missed a couple of cheques. But he’s another just coming back and should improve with the run.”

Dan Costello Race Photography