FEBRUARY 9, 1998
Calendar decisions this week
THE final decision over the French Grand Prix is expected this week as legislation which will allow the race to go ahead passes through the French National Assembly. If the law restricting access for television cameras which do not belong to the host broadcaster is not disrupted, it is expected that the FIA will announce that the race can go ahead at Magny-Cours on June 28. If there are any problems with the passage of the new bill it is likely to mean the end of any hope the French may have of holding a race.
There is also expected to be a decision in the course of the week over whether or not the Belgian GP will be part of the calendar. The race is under threat because Belgium refuses to drop its plans to ban tobacco advertising from the start of 1999 in favor of the European-wide ban which will come into effect at a later date.
Last week the European Competition Commissioner, Belgian Karel Van Miert, told the Belgian Parliament that the EuropeanĘCommission would not bow to pressure from the FIA to back down and intended to stop the bullying that he considers is an abuse of the FIA's position.
Van Miert said that the FIA is a body which "does not hesitate to use all means possible to strengthen its position" but said that "the European Commission will resist these methods".
Van Miert's attacks on the FIA have so far failed to impress the governing body of the sport, although the Belgian commissioner has forced such industry giants as Boeing and McDonnell-Douglas to alter their behavior in Europe. On Friday he launched another attack on international business, announcing that Hollywood studios Paramount, Universal and MGM/UA must dismantle their joint distribution company in Europe.
At the recent world economic forum at Davos, in Switzerland, Van Miert, incidentally, began campaigning for the institution of a global organization to deal with competition issues.
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