Grapevine: FOM Responds to RAI Request Reports

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has moved to make it clear that he was happy for Italian television broadcaster RAI to alter their coverage of the Bahrain Grand Prix in the wake of the death of the Pope at the weekend, amid speculation that he refused permission for them to change their plans

Grapevine: FOM Responds to RAI Request Reports

Reports in the Italian media said RAI had requested on Saturday night, before the death of the Pope, that they be allowed to not have to show the race. Gazzetta dello Sport claimed the request was denied, so RAI decided to switch the coverage to the second channel instead.

When the Pope passed away on Saturday night, RAI subsequently decided not to show the race at all.

Television stations that have deals with Ecclestone are contractually bound to show each round of the World Championship.

Ecclestone's Formula One Management (FOM) company issued a statement on Monday, however, claiming that they had no problem in RAI switching coverage to their second channel - although the statement did not mention about whether there had been a specific issue about the race not being televised at all.

The statement said: "Contrary to reports in the German and Italian press, FOM would like to state that at no point did it refuse Italian broadcaster RAI's request to alter broadcast arrangements for the Bahrain Grand Prix in light of the death of Pope John Paul II.

"A verbal request was received by Mr Ecclestone on Saturday evening to switch the race broadcast from Channel 1 to Channel 2. This was agreed and the following written confirmation, signed by Mr Ecclestone, was sent to RAI on Sunday morning.

"Notwithstanding the provisions on our contract, should you wish to broadcast the Bahraini round of the 2005 Formula One World Championship on your Channel 2 we would have no objections. We understand your position under these most unfortunate circumstances."

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