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WRC NEWS 

Eurosport on the verge of World Rally Championship TV deal

The FIA's World Rally Championship television agreement with Eurosport is expected to be revealed later today.

AUTOSPORT's sources have confirmed contracts were signed late last night for a three-year agreement between the governing body and the French firm. The deal is believed to center on television coverage and distribution, while the promotion of the sport is expected to be taken care of the FIA itself.

Eurosport was unavailable for comment when AUTOSPORT contacted its offices, but a statement is expected to be issued in a matter of hours.

The deal for next week's Monte Carlo Rally is reckoned to include a 26-minute highlights show at the end of each day, but the power-stage will not be run live on Sunday afternoon.

Eurosport's agreement comes in the wake of the demise of former global rights holder North One Sport, which had its contract with the FIA terminated on Sunday following a breach of contract.

With just days to go before the start of the opening round, one television insider has admitted Eurosport will be up against it - despite having covered the event as an IRC round for the last three years.

North One Television CEO Neil Duncanson said: "I think Monte Carlo is very difficult now for whoever goes to do it. We were ready to go right up until the FIA terminated the NOS contract on Sunday. Since then we have stood down the satellite bookings, we were supposed to be doing three live stages and all the other programmes. The preview programme is finished, it was supposed to be delivered on Wednesday - we'd been up at M-Sport shooting it on Monday. We were ready to go.

"Somebody coming in cold could produce some fairly basic highlight shows; Eurosport at least have experience in Monte Carlo and could probably put together some lightweight live stages for the internet, but the longer this goes on the more difficult it becomes. There's months of planning which people will have to do in days. Monte is very difficult, you're right in the mountains in difficult weather and moving all the time. It's a logistical nightmare."

Duncanson added that there were legal implications for Eurosport's move, saying: "We're still waiting to hear from Eurosport about the transfer of our production team over to them, under European employment law. But we've not even had the courtesy of an acknowledgement so far."

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