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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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New era for TV coverage imminentHeadlines
Grand National action

Channel 4's programmers have announced a handful of new features for their shows in 2013 including the intention to run Saturday's major race at 3.50pm as often as possible.

Using a new production team from IMG Sports Media from the start of next year, when the station takes over all the remaining fixtures from the BBC, they will be broadcasting 88 days of live racing action. Possible additional coverage of the Dubai World Cup and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is something which may be announced in the coming weeks or months.

Channel 4 sports editor Jamie Aitchison and executive producer Carl Hicks outlined a number of possible changes to the way racing will be shown at a presentation in London on Wednesday.

"The big race of the day will be run at 3.50pm for most of the year, apart from the time when the days are short, and this won't be the crown jewels like the Derby and the Grand National," said Hicks.

"We want to put that time into most people's minds. It will be half-time in most football matches and football is the big balloon that we must work around. This time will also help with radio broadcasting."

Hicks went on: "We are trying to change a few things to a small degree. There are no big intentions."

Each Saturday afternoon programme is set to run from 1.45pm to 4.15pm for 10 and a half months of the year. Hicks and Aitchison would like to have a clock on the screen to time races and are planning 'enhanced photo finishes' with an idea of having a camera in the judges' box when a decision is made, as well as images of connections as they await a verdict.

The Morning Line programme will be filmed in a travelling expandable studio, from where the race analysts will work in the afternoon, and there will be a touchscreen tabletop in the studio to bring up replays and statistics.

There is a slightly changed logo for Channel 4 Racing, plus different graphics and opening credits with new music. Aitchison was asked how he would be prepared for any drama associated with the Grand National, which will be covered by the channel for the first time in 2013.

He said: "We'll have a robust plan. Live TV is about reacting to what happens on the day."

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