Should the proposed bid for F1 ownership by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation become anything more than a talking point in grand prix circles, legal experts have warned that it would almost certainly attract the attention of competition regulators as well as those more directly involved in the sport.
News Corp's major interest in the Sky
broadcasting platform would be seen as a stumbling block for any deal, with those inside the sport acknowledging that it needs to remain accessible by as big an audience as possible and those charged with ensuring fair play wary that the media giant's power could work to its own advantage.
"News Corporation's involvement in the bid for F1 could attract scrutiny from the competition regulators," Paul Stone, head of competition and regulation for law firm Charles Russell, told TV Sports Markets
, "Given News Corporation's interest in Sky, it might be able to influence decisions over which broadcaster is awarded rights to show the races, in order to advantage Sky."
News Corp has yet to make a bid for the ownership of F1 - and many believe that the talk is just that - but it is reported to have met with the sport's current 'big four' teams, Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull and Mercedes, and have attracted the support of potential investors including Italian investment fund Exor, Mexican telecommunications billionaire Carlos Slim, and the NY-based Raine Group merchant back, which counts former Ferrari backer Mubadala amongst its investors.
confirms that there are particular concerns about the incentive for News Corp to sell the media rights for the series to its own broadcasters, and the potential for it to use its ownership of the rights to leverage its position in negotiations for other television rights.