SLEC steers b’cast rights extension

Formula One marketer inks pact with auto assn. FIA

BERLIN — Formula One rights- marketer SLEC, 75%-owned by German media groups Kirch and EM.TV, will ink a 100-year extension of its broadcast contract with the international automobile association FIA in Paris today.

SLEC had reckoned on $309 million for the rights, although the price may be higher.

Contract has been long in the planning, but recent threats by international automakers to form an alternative racing circuit had put the deal in question.

Pact is further evidence that SLEC topper Bernie Ecclestone is becoming more comfortable about sharing his company with Kirch.

The Munich media giant had faced opposition from Ecclestone, who was wary of Kirch’s aims for Formula One; Ecclestone since has received assurances from Kirch that the racing event will remain on free TV and will not be used to boost Kirch’s foundering pay TV in Germany.

Automakers still are worried, however, and are looking at setting up their own alternative racing event when their contract with Formula One expires in 2007.

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