Posts Tagged ‘Rupert Murdoch’

Luca di Montezemolo is not pleased with 2011 rules

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has reignited talk regarding a potential breakaway series following the rumoured joint-bid from News Corporation and Exor.

Exor are owned by the Agnelli family who have a 30% stake in FIAT – the parent company of Ferrari.

All teams are currently bound to the Concorde Agreement which, among many things, states the sport must remain on free-to-air television. Should Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp takeover it would likely see broadcasting rights move to his Sky company.

 But the deal expires at the end of next year and has led to a lot of media speculation as to the sport’s future.

Certainly Di Montezemolo’s words today, in an interview with CNN, merely add fuel to the fire as the 63-year-old sees no reason why the teams have to commit themselves to the current F1 model.

“I think we have to be very pragmatic,” said Di Montezemolo. “At the end of 2012, the contracts of every single team with CVC will expire. So, we have three alternatives.

“We renew with CVC, or we theoretically, as the basketball teams did in the US with great success, we create our own company like the NBA to run the races, the TV rights and so, and third, we find a different partner.

“Bernie Ecclestone has done a very good job, but he’s already sold out three times, so he doesn’t own the business any more. It is CVC that will sell.

“At the end of 2012 the contract will expire, so theoretically CVC doesn’t own anything.

“I think it is important to have alternatives. We will see. We have time to do it.”

Ferrari are well-known to be unhappy with some of the rule changes to be introduced in the next two years – especially the proposed to four-cylinder turbo-charged engines.

Of primary concern to Di Montezemolo is the current state of F1. He is said to be irritated by the new changes, in particular with the introduction of the DRS (drag reduction system) and re-introduction of KERS.

“We have gone too far with artificial elements,” added Di Montezemolo.

“I want to see competition, cars on the track. I don’t want to see competition in the pits.

“In the last race there were 80 pitstops. Come on, it’s too much, and the people don’t understand anymore because when you come out of the pits you don’t know what position you’re in.

“I think we have gone too far with the machines, too many buttons. The driver is focusing on them to give him authorisation to overtake. We have gone too far.

“Ferrari will push a lot with the authority (the FIA), with the respect we have to the Federation and the other teams, to avoid going too far with F1 because I think it can create problems for the television people and on the racetrack,” he said.


Murdoch wants F1 to expand his empire

The future of Formula 1 is again in doubt after Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and an Italian investment company stated their intention to approach minority partners ahead of a possible takeover.

As The Chequered Flag reported last month, Murdoch had teamed up with a partner to discuss the possibility of becoming majority stakeholders in the multi-billion dollar sport.

It was originally believed to be Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, but today it was revealed that News Corp had teamed up with Exor – who have links with Fiat (who in turn own Ferrari).

“Exor and News Corp will approach minority partners and key stakeholders in the sport,” a joint Exor and News Corp statement read.

But 80 year-old F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone played down the possibility that current majority stakeholders CVC would sell. They paid $1.8 billion five years ago.

“Personally, I know CVC don’t want to sell, so it’s going to be a bit difficult,” said Ecclestone. “I can see CVC in for the long haul, absolutely, 100%.

“If somebody came along and offered them a lot more money than it’s worth, they [CVC] would obviously say ‘Sit down, let’s have a chat’. But I get the distinct feeling that’s not going to happen,” he said.

“I can’t understand why a company as big as News Corp need to keep looking for partners. First it was Carlos Slim, and now we’ve a new one.”

The sudden interest from News Corp is thought to coincide with a possible TV coverage bid. The BBC currently has the broadcasting rights until 2013.

Ecclestone has not received any calls

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has rubbished reports that Rupert Murdoch is planning to takeover the sport.

According to Sky News, News Corp owner Murdoch has been in talks with Mexican billionaire, Carlos Slim about trying to launch a bid.

Ecclestone told BBC Sport that he had not been approached by anyone about a deal.

“I know Rupert and [News Corp international boss] James Murdoch and Carlos Slim, and if they wanted to do anything they would contact me direct. And they haven’t,” he said.

“It’s rubbish. The sport is not for sale. And, anyway, we would not sell to a media company because it would restrict the ability to negotiate with other broadcasters.”
Formula 1 is currently owned by CVC partners and they have also claimed not to have had any contact with prospective buyers. Ecclestone runs the sport on CVC’s behalf.

Murdoch may decide to bid for the broadcasting rights instead when the BBC’s current contract expires in 2013.

It is not known whether the BBC will look to retain the rights, despite record ratings as they look to slash their budget. The current deal is estimated to be worth £40 million per year.

Formula 1 is not one of the protected sports events that must be screened on free-to-air television but it has never been on a subscription channel before.