London: Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone has said that multi-billionaire tycoon Rupert Murdoch’s media group, News Corporation, would effectively be blocked from buying his racing series due to an agreement he has made with the European Commission (EC).
“I’m sure the European Commission wouldn’t let it go through because our agreement with them was to keep F1 on free-to-air television,” the Independent quoted Ecclestone, as saying.
Ecclestone said that the deal dates from 1999, when the EC’s competition commission investigated F1 after claims that its governing body, the FIA, and his Formula One Holdings had too much control over the racing series.
The 80-year-old also believes that F1 is worth “six to seven billion dollars, which would make it hard for News Corporation to justify the purchase knowing it would then be forced to allow its free-to-air rivals to broadcast the racing series.
“Do you think the FIA or the teams would go along with that, because all of a sudden there is no free-to-air television,” Ecclestone said.
It was earlier reported that talks about News Corp “forming a consortium that would seek to acquire control” of F1 were at an “embryonic” stage.
“News Corp has been in preliminary talks in recent weeks with people connected to at least one of F1’s big car manufacturers, and with Carlos Slim, the Mexican billionaire who is the world’s richest man,” the report had claimed.
It was also said that JP Morgan, a former shareholder in F1, was advising Murdoch’s New York-based company over any potential deal.
First Published: Sunday, May 01, 2011, 13:19