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APRIL 3, 2001

Mosley issues TV deadline

FORMULA ONE holding company SLEC has been given just eight days to conclude a television rights deal before the sport's governing body, the FIA, begins to look for other options.

Max Mosley, the FIA president, believes discussions over the deal between Formula One ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone and German media groups Kirch and EM.TV are going on too long.

Ecclestone is reported to now own 25 per cent of the SLEC company, which has the commercial and broadcasting rights for Formula One, while Kirch and EM.TV reportedly own the other 75 per cent.

The FIA have in principal approved a 100-year deal for SLEC to own the commercial rights to the sport as long as Ecclestone and the German media groups can conclude a deal and structure in the next eight days.

"There is still an awful lot to be done," said Mosley. "If the deal is not done by April 11 then other possibilities will be looked at.

"It's been going on for eight months now, so one's got to be slightly pessimistic.

"I would have thought people would find a compromise because it is the most sensible thing to do - but it hasn't happened yet."

Kirch's entry into Formula One brought great concern that the sport would disappear onto pay-per-view television, and many of the team chiefs spoke out against the move -- Renault even threatened to quit the sport.

But Mosley is doing all he can to ensure the sport will remain accessible to all, and added: "I assume that if Kirch come in they would be aware that there must be free-to-air TV."

"There can be pay TV on a parallel basis, but our basic condition is free to air for anyone who wants to watch."

This seems to be the sticking point in the negotiations, and it is clear that time is running out for Kirch, who bought a large percentage of EM.TV last year, to back down.