Spanish group grabs F1 TV rights

The right to broadcast Formula 1 races in Spain has become a useful asset thanks to the efforts of Fernando Alonso and the current rights-holder Telecinco. The interest in F1 has grown dramatically in the last three years and the station now gets an audience of around six million people at each Grand Prix. The value of this audience to TV advertisers means that the racing has attracted the attention of the La Sexta channel, which is run by the Mediapro company. This has been very active in sport in recent years and has made Bernie Ecclestone an offer he cannot refuse. The deal also means that coverage of the sport in Catalonia will switch from TV3 to La Sexta, although this will not happen until 2009. The deal runs until 2013 and is worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the Formula One group.

There are similar negotiations going on in other countries, notably in Germany where the current rights holders RTL and Premiere are facing a challenge from rival broadcasters. Interest in Germany has waned somewhat since the retirement of Michael Schumacher but it is still a very valuable media property.

This will also help Ecclestone as he negotiates to gain control of the TV production at all events. At the moment his crew is televising 13 races but hopes to increase this number to gain full control in order to produce a more consistent product. To improve the show, however, investment is required and at the moment there is little sign that large sums of being spent to find better ways to showcase the sport.

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