Formula One promoters criticise direction under Liberty

16 Grand Prix representatives express concern over migration from free-to-air TV.

Formula One promoters criticise direction under Liberty

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A majority of Formula One’s Grand Prix promoters have issued a joint statement expressing concern about how the global motorsport series is being run by owners Liberty Media.

Representatives of 16 Grands Prix were in agreement that Formula One’s migration from free-to-air TV ‘is not in the long-term interest of the sport’. The series has done an increasing number of deals with pay-TV broadcasters in recent years, while its new F1 TV over-the-top (OTT) streaming service costs between US$8 and US$12 per month.

Despite that, Formula One reported growth in audience figures across both TV and digital platforms in 2018, with the series global cumulative TV audience growing to 1.758 billion.

The three-point statement, which was issued by the Formula One Promoters’ Association (Fopa) following a meeting in London, also criticised ‘a lack of clarity on new initiatives in F1 and a lack of engagement with promoters on their implementation’.

Finally, there was concern over Liberty’s plans to add more races to the Formula One calendar, with a race in Vietnam already confirmed for 2020 and a well-documented push for a Grand Prix in Miami.

‘New races should not be introduced to the detriment of existing events’, the statement read, before adding that Fopa was ‘encouraged by the alternative business models being offered to prospective venues’.

The move came ahead of the start of the 21-race Formula One season in March. Fopa said that its members are seeking ‘a more collaborative approach’ and ‘the opportunity to offer their experiences and expertise in a spirit of partnership with Formula One and the FIA’.

Fopa is chaired by Stuart Pringle, the managing director of Britain’s Silverstone circuit, which is one of five Grand Prix venues out of contract after the 2019 season.

The Daily Mail hinted that Liberty could now face a rebellion from some of its promoters, with Pringle telling the UK newspaper: “Everyone is disgruntled. Liberty's ideas are disjointed.

“We have all been compliant and quiet hitherto, but we have great concerns about the future health of the sport under the people who run it now.”