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News Corp linked with F1 buyout

NEWS STORY
20/04/2011

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp is said to be in the "early stages" of talks that could see it buy the commercial rights to Formula One from CVC.

The story was broken by Sky News' business editor Mark Kleinman, ironically, just weeks after he claimed that the sport "faces being thrown into turmoil" as a result of the ongoing investigation into Gerhard Gribkowsky and his $50m,

According to Kleinman, New Corp is in talks with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, who currently sponsors the Sauber team and who is thought to be playing a role in F1's return to the USA, and an un-named car manufacturer already involved in F1.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Bernie Ecclestone was quick to dismiss the story. "It's rubbish," he said. "The sport is not for sale." While Kleinman - an employee of New Corp courtesy of his role with Sky News which is owned by the New York based giant - includes numerous caveats in his story.

News Corp, which owns 39 percent of BSkyB, the owner of Sky News, and is currently seeking to totally buyout the satellite broadcaster, also owns the News of the World, the British tabloid which exposed Max Mosley's private life and which is currently under investigation for the phone hacking scandal.

The Concorde Agreement states that F1 must be shown free to air where there are suitable broadcasters prepared to do this, which would bar Sky from showing the sport exclusively. Furthermore, when the broadcaster ran Bernie Ecclestone's digital coverage in 2002, take up on the subscription was so poor that the prices were soon reduced and at season end coverage was scrapped completely.

In the late 1990s the competition commission blocked BskyB from buying Manchester United due to the power it would give the firm when it came to negotiating broadcast contracts. Therefore, one would think that if the acquisition of one team was too much for the authorities it's not likely they would approve News Corp buying an entire sports series.

Much like the Gribkowsky story - and the two are clearly connected - there is a lot more to this than meets the eye. Strange forces are at work here.

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