SIS in move to ease audio problems for independents.
HARD-pressed small independents - and parts of Britain are now an independent wilderness, which surely strengthens Bookmakers' Committee chairman Will Roseff's case for increasing the Levy-free slice for such outlets - are at least meriting top-table consideration.
The latest is an idea from SIS to offer an audio switching unit, SIScom, free of charge to all independents in order to reduce the disjointed audio presentation caused by two rival broadcasters in SIS and TurfTV. This problem does not exist in major companies because they have their own broadcasting systems.
Warwick Bartlett, chairman of the Association of British Bookmakers, said: "The audio issue continues to cause major problems to those bookmakers who have not managed to develop their own solution.
"We are pleased to support this initiative by SIS, as we feel it will allow the independents to compete on a more level playing field.
"We are pleased to have negotiated an attractive deal for all independents. SIS has agreed to charge those who take the service a small, one-off installation fee and subsequently to offer SIScom free of charge, to include the unit itself plus its support and maintenance".
Bartlett added: "We see it as a good solution for independent bookmakers, both in terms of its operational capability and the pricing arrangement to which SIS has agreed."
Phil Siers, SIS managing director, LBO division, said: "We have for some considerable time experimented with different picture and audio switching options and are conscious of this ongoing issue and appreciate the problems the independent sector continues to experience. We are confident SIScom will solve this problem and are pleased to have the support of the ABB with this exercise."
Leading independent Howard Chisholm, still a TurfTV refusnik on cost grounds, said: "I would say that, for those bookmakers who have brought the problem of clashing audio on themselves by signing up to TurfTV, it's very good news.
"For those of us who have never had the problem it's a worry that the service from SIS may suffer during the periods they switch over to TTV coverage. We already suffer from SIS audio announcements regarding South African racing, which is irrelevant for those of us without TTV and should not be broadcast into non-TTV shops. I certainly hope the introduction of SIScom will enable SIS to remove SA audio from their service."