Changes at Formula One Television

Formula One Television, Bernie Ecclestone's digital pay-per-view television service has not been a success for the TV companies which bought into the scheme. They have all made losses on the deal and several have gone out of business. Now there are no major customers left and so Formula One Television is looking at what to do in the future. The aim is to switch the main digital signal to become the world feed at most of the races. This will greatly improve the free-to-air coverage which has been poor and very patchy to date. But in order to achieve this Formula One will have to renegotiate contracts with all the host broadcasters involved in the different races. In some countries this will not be a problem as it will save local TV companies money but in others the broadcasting of the Grand Prix is a feather in the cap of the TV stations and they will not want to let go of the job. Contracts will need to be renegotiated.

The idea of the same team producing the feed from each race (complete with all the technology, in-car cameras and access to teams and drivers) is a good one and will mean that the free-to-air television show will be greatly enhanced. In theory at least this should lead to a situation in which TV stationss and their advertisers are willing to pay more money for the show than is currently the case so the additional income from free-to-air deals should replace some of the income which will be lost from the end of pay-per-view TV. It is anticipated that there will be no problems at the first few races in 2003 as there are either no host broadcaster designated or the TV companies in question are willing to do deals.

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