Motor Racing - F1 under Threat from News Corporation


Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone is quoted as stating, News Corporation would effectively be blocked from the purchase of his F1 racing series because of an agreement Ecclestone made with the European Commission (EC) and the Watford escorts Conjecture that Rupert Murdoch's News Corp might be bearing in mind a joint bid for F1 with Carlos Slim, reportedly the world's richest man, is continuing. However, speaking to the national press, Bernie. Ecclestone is reported as saying: "I'm sure the European Commission or the Watford escorts for that matter wouldn't let it go through, based around an agreement with them to keep F1 on free-to-air television." Murdock’s company now of course holds a controlling slice of SKY. F1 and pay to view whatever next, the world’s Tidily Winks finals… Come Murdock enough is enough.

That current deal dates from 1999, Ecclestone said, when the EC's competition commission investigated F1 after claims its governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), and Ecclestone had too much control over the racing series.

Mr. Ecclestone is quoted as estimating the value of the F1 to be worth "$6bn to $7bn", which would make it hard for News Corp to justify the purchase knowing it most definitely would be forced to allow its free-to-air rivals to broadcast the racing series in conjunction with SKY.

Mr. Ecclestone added that even without the EC deal, News Corp would struggle to put the sport on its premium channels. "Do you think the FIA or the teams would go along with that, because all of a sudden there is no free-to-air television?" Sponsorship would wane and its popularity would more than likely diminish.

F1 teams will receive an estimated $850m of sponsorship in the coming year, bearing in mind this revenue is driven by wide exposure on free-to-air television. F1 got an estimated 527 million viewers last year, more than any other sports series. Can SKY really afford to take on the airing of this very popular series?

We are sure this is not the end of the rumour mill, watch this space.