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Atlas F1 News Service, a Reuters report
EU Says FIA Makes New Proposals in F1 Probe

Friday May 5th, 2000

By Michael Mann

The European Commission said on Friday it had received "constructive" new proposals from the International Automobile Federation (FIA) in its probe into whether motor racing's governing body broke EU antitrust rules.

"On April 26 Max Mosley, president of the FIA, made concrete proposals to (EU Competition) Commissioner Mario Monti in order to bring the Commission's competition cases against his federation to a satisfactory conclusion," Commission spokeswoman Amelia Torres told reporters.

"Mr Monti ... indicated that, upon a first reading, Mr Mosley's proposals appear to be innovative and constructive, and that his services would be happy to discuss the settlement proposals in more detail," she said.

Torres said the Commission needed time to study the proposals in detail and had agreed to a request from FIA and the other parties to the case - Formula One Administration Ltd and International Sportsworld Communicators Ltd - to postpone a hearing due to take place next week.

Neither the Commission nor lawyers representing FIA were prepared to give details of the proposals, saying this would compromise the negotiations.

Blistering Attack

In February, Mosley launched a blistering attack on Commission charges that FIA had broken competition law.

The Commission launched proceedings last June against the FIA, plus FOA and ISC, the Formula One companies run by FIA vice-president Bernie Ecclestone.

FOA sells broadcasting rights for Grands Prix while ISC markets TV rights for other motor sports.

Monti's predecessor Karel Van Miert warned that unless the rules and contracts governing Formula One were changed, the organisers of Grand Prix racing could face heavy fines.

The Commission alleged the FIA had the power to prevent competition by threatening to withdraw the licences of circuit owners, teams and drivers.

The EU's antitrust watchdog also contested the notion that FIA should own the TV rights, transferred to Ecclestone and ISC for Formula One, to all championships bearing its name.

Mosley said in February that the EU's "statement of objections" was "hopelessly confused", failed to show FIA holds a dominant position and relied on complaints from just two people.

FIA alleged that EU competition officials assigned to the case had "behaved grossly, improperly and displayed incompetence amounting to abuse".

FIA filed its rules for EU regulatory approval in 1994. They remained largely unchallenged until 1997 when Ecclestone notified his own agreements with the FIA to seek legal clearance before the planned flotation of Formula One.

In March, Germany's EM.TV Merchandising took a 50 percent stake in Formula One, joining Ecclestone as co-owners in a cash and share deal worth around $1.65 billion.

Ecclestone told Reuters in March that a flotation was still on the agenda within two to three years.

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