JUNE 7, 1999
The FIA awaits European Commission
THE European Commission Competition Directorate is reportedly on the verge of issuing a formal "statement of objections" to the FIA regarding the way in which Grand Prix racing is commercially organized. The long-awaited letter should open the way for negotiations to solve the points of contention between Grand Prix racing and the European authorities. A similar statement of objection is expected to be sent to Bernie Ecclestone.
The European Commission has objections to the long-term exclusive broadcasting agreement between the FIA and Ecclestone's Formula One Holdings.
The deals have been under European scrutiny for nearly two years, since Bernie Ecclestone asked the Commission to look at the arrangements when he was preparing to float Formula One Holdings in the autumn of 1997. The Commission sent out a warning letter in December 1997 and since then the investigation has dragged on.
The FIA has made frequent complaints about the delays involved - it has been waiting for clearance of its rule-making structure since 1994 - and things have been confused by verbal battles between the Competition Commissioner KarelÊVanÊMiert and FIA President Max Mosley.
There has long been speculation that there would eventually be a settlement between F1 and Europe involving clearance of certain competition issues in exchange for an earlier ban on tobacco advertising.