Ecclestone: Pay TV would be 'suicide'

Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has warned teams it would be 'suicidal' for them if the sport moved to News Corporation's pay-per-view channels as part of a takeover deal

Ecclestone: Pay TV would be 'suicide'

Amid signs of intense resistance from Ecclestone about the possibility of News Corporation buying into F1, the sport's commercial rights holder says teams would lose huge sponsorship interest if coverage was no longer on mass market channels.

"Murdoch hasn't got anything really big to drive their TV audiences and Formula 1 would be good for that," he explained in an interview with the official Formula 1 website. "They have been trying to buy the TV rights from us for a long time, but we won't because they are not free-to-air television broadcasters. They are a subscription service.

"Very recently they wanted to do something in Germany, in the UK and in Italy, where they are, but we couldn't do it. Sky is doing an incredible job but if you look at their audience they are nowhere. With these figures it would be almost impossible for teams to find sponsors. That would be suicidal."

Ecclestone suggests that News Corp should forget any plans to try and buy F1, because current majority shareholders CVC Capital Partners are not interested in selling.

"CVC has given the answer," he said. "They are the major shareholders and they do not want to sell. That is 100 per cent for sure."

He added: "Somebody might say that they want to do it, but it doesn't mean that when somebody wants to buy something the owner wants to sell. And CVC made it very clear that they don't want to sell.

"If people don't want to sell, others have to accept that fact. It's as simple as that."

Ecclestone also thinks that the shareholders of teams - who are due to meet with News Corp next week - should forget the idea of a rival bid for the series, or the possibility of a breakaway.

"I hope these people come to their senses," he said. "The teams should be happy to have somebody like CVC not selling to the wrong people, trying to maintain a good level for them and supporting me so that I can go to work and earn some money for the teams."

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