New Zealand can expect a significant increase in international television exposure after two new television partners signed up for this year's World Rally Championship.

The Propecia sponsored Rally New Zealand from 15-18 April is the fourth round of the FIA World Rally Championship, with the spectacular New Zealand event to be in the spotlight after the new television arrangement.

WRC rights holder International Sport Communicators (ISC) has signed a new three year deal with British television giant ITV, as well as satellite provider British Eurosport.

ITV enjoys a 24 percent audience share in the United Kingdom and will replace Channel 4 which has screened the WRC for the last two years. Channel 4 had a nine percent audience share.

ITV will air a guaranteed one-hour programme on the Sunday afternoon of each WRC round together with a 30 minute magazine show previewing and reviewing each rally. They are no stranger to motorsport with their portfolio including Formula 1 and the British Touring Car Championship.

Starting with the Monte Carlo rally two weeks ago weekend, British Eurosport will broadcast a 30-minute daily highlight programme of each day's action for all 16 events in the WRC calendar. In total, British Eurosport will provide three hours of broadcast per rally.

The massive increase in international viewers has thrilled Propecia Rally New Zealand organisers.

"The WRC is a major sport especially in Europe and these new television arrangements will result in a major increase in audience," Rally New Zealand chairman Morrie Chandler said.

"That means showing off New Zealand at its very best to millions more viewers on top of the hundreds of millions who already watch.

"It makes us a major promoter of New Zealand to a significant worldwide audience which must provide an ideal platform for tourism in to this country, on top of the direct benefits from the event itself."

Rally New Zealand organisers estimate the event already brings in approximately $50 million to the New Zealand economy each year, with the worldwide television coverage providing a further significant tourism opportunity.

This massive international television coverage will be complimented in New Zealand by coverage on the host broadcaster TV3. Together this is a unique opportunity to showcase New Zealand as a tourism destination to the world.

The Propecia-sponsored Rally New Zealand has a new format for 2004, starting with two super special stages at Manukau City on the evening of Thursday 15 April. The first full day on Friday is in the Kaipara region before returning for two further super special stages at Manukau City. Saturday's racing returns to Kaipara, with the last day in the Waikato region near Raglan. The final stage will be the internationally acclaimed Whaanga Coast, with the ceremonial finish in downtown Auckland City on Sunday afternoon.



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