Formula 1’s commercial rights holder Liberty Media has been criticised for its handling of the sport by promoters of most of this year’s races.
Among FOPA’s concerns is the sport’s move away from free-to-air broadcasting. This year the UK will become the latest in a series of countries to lose live free-to-air coverage of the sport. The sport’s previous owners awarded pay-TV channel Sky exclusive live broadcast rights to every round aside from the British Grand Prix.
“It is not in the long term interest of the sport that fans lose free access to content and broadcasting,” said FOPA in its statement.
It also challenged Liberty’s rate of progress in developing Formula 1. “There is a lack of clarity on new initiatives in F1 and a lack of engagement with promoters on their implementation,” said the statement.
FOPA warned Liberty not to undermine existing races by adding new rounds to the calendar. This appears to be a thinly-veiled criticism of Liberty’s courting of Miami to host a second US round of the championship by offering it a cut-price deal.
“New races should not be introduced to the detriment of existing events although the association is encouraged by the alternative business models being offered to prospective events,” it said.
“As we enter a new season of the sport that we have promoted for many decades, the promoters seek a more collaborative approach to the development of the championship and the opportunity to offer their experience and expertise in a spirit of partnership with Formula 1 and the FIA,” the statement concluded.
FOPA is chaired by Stuart Pringle, the managing director of Silverstone, which hosts the British Grand Prix. It is one of five rounds on this year’s schedule which does not have a contract to appear on the 2020 F1 calendar, having triggered a break clause in its current deal in 2017.
Update 08:41: RaceFans has confirmed the 16 races represented by FOPA are as follows: Australia (Melbourne), Azerbaijan (Baku), Spain (Catalunya), Canada (Circuit Gilles Villeneuve), China (Shanghai) – not present at meeting, France (Paul Ricard), Austria (Red Bull Ring) – represented by Hungary at meeting, Great Britain (Silverstone), Germany (Hockenheimring), Hungary (Hungaroring), Belgium (Spa-Francorchamps), Italy (Monza), Singapore, Mexico (Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez), USA (Circuit of the Americas) and Brazil (Interlagos). The five races not represented (excluding newcomer Vietnam) are: Bahrain, Monaco, Russia (Sochi), Japan (Suzuka), Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina).
Why are F1’s promoters unhappy? Read our analysis of how they view Liberty Media’s changes to the sport.
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