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Murdoch bid would threaten competition rules

Legal experts have confirmed that News Corporation's rumoured interest in F1 could lead to questioned about competitive practices when it comes to TV coverage.

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.

Sport Business 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.

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Caroline - Unregistered

May 17, 2011 8:28 PM

Merger Regulation 139, is the EU competition regulation that floored News Corp' last time, and unless they guaranteed their rival broadcasters F1 at a 'reasonable' price, would be their undoing again.

hello moto - Unregistered

May 18, 2011 4:48 AM

Do these clowns understand how TV works? The networks make shows or buy shows from production companies, and then they air them exclusively on network affiliates. What the hell is this guy on about? We are going to stop TV networks from owning their own programming now?

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