Virgin worried about F1 TV rights

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MARUSSIA Virgin Racing president Graeme Lowdon fears for Formula One’s future if the bosses head towards a pay-per-view model.

Speculation is growing that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp group are interested in securing the UK broadcasting rights of the sport.

It is currently the BBC who are contracted to screen F1. However, their deal runs out in 2013.

Lowdon reckons F1 is ‘served much better in the world of free-to-air’ television and added: “F1 is an incredibly popular sport. It’s talked about by people.

“It’s the ultimate team game and the drivers are the heroes. If you remove the majority of the public, it removes a lot of the spirit of what F1 is about, as well as the ability for the teams to stand on our own two feet without reliance on the commercial rights holder.

“It’s more important that we have an agenda that grows the popularity of the sport than one that gazes inwardly.

“Formula One is way bigger than pay-per-view and deserves its place on the global stage with the viewing figures it gets. We would be concerned if the sport was heading towards a pay-per-view only model.”

Lowdon wants F1 to ignore the short-term fix that pay-per-view would offer.

“The attraction of free-to-air is it gives you more opportunity to diversify your revenue streams,” he said. “If we go pay-per-view and find people use other (TV) channels, then we’re at risk. At least if you have underlying popularity, you can get your revenue.”