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F1 'blackout' for Italian fans

2012-06-08 08:53

PAY UP, F1 FANS: Rupert Murdoch's money machine is now chewing on Italian F1 fans.

Keith Weir

LONDON, England - Sky Italia, part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, has bought the Italian live rights to Formula 1 races from 2013, gaining the upper hand over state broadcaster RAI in a new agreement that blends pay and free-to-air TV coverage.

Sky Italia will show every race live while a second, free-to-air, broadcaster will have live rights to only around half of the races and will show the remainder with a time delay. Races are currently shown live on RAI.

The agreement appears to be modelled on a Sky TV deal that started in Britain in 2012.

BALANCE SOUGHT

Pay TV operator BSkyB, in which News Corp is the largest shareholder, shows all 20 races live in Britain, while the publicly funded BBC screens 10 races live and extended highlights of the others.

F1 is seeking to find a balance between striking lucrative TV deals and the sponsors' desire to reach the largest possible TV audience. The global motor-racing business has put plans for a stock market listing on hold because of market turmoil.

"We've worked with Sky Italia in the past and I have no doubts about their production standards," overall F1 commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone said in a statement issued by the Italian broadcaster. "We have a similar agreement in Britain that is working very well."

Sky Italia said it had bought the live rights for all platforms, including web, tablet, smartphone and Internet TV. The national broadcaster, which would acquire a share of the rights, would be agreed between Sky and F1, it added.

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