The president of F1’s governing body has allayed fears that the sport could disappear from ‘free-to-air’ television in the future.
The Finnish and Portuguese TV rights holders are reportedly already preparing to switch to subscriber-only ‘pay-per-view’ for live broadcasts in 2007, even though the current Concorde Agreement reportedly protects the rights of viewers in principal countries.
The agreement, however, terminates at the end of next year, and there is no guarantee that the same clause will be included in a new one. Indeed, there is even speculation that Formula One may proceed without a new Concorde.
McLaren boss Ron Dennis thinks a reduction in free-to-air broadcasts will affect the F1 audience — which would diminish a team’s ability to attract big sponsors.
“I think there is nothing more certain that if it was pay (only), then the audience would drop for F1,” he said.
FIA president Max Mosley, however, responded this week: “The Formula One images should be freely available to the public. That is fundamental to the manufacturers and to us.”