Atlas F1 News Service, a Reuters report

Ecclestone Given Ultimatum on F1 Rights

Tuesday February 6th, 2001

Bernie Ecclestone must pay $60 million to secure long-term broadcasting rights for Formula One motor racing or risk seeing them pass to someone else, the sport's governing body FIA said on Tuesday.

FIA said in a statement that Ecclestone had failed to deliver an initial payment of $60 million last year as part of a deal to extend his Formula One broadcasting and commercial rights and had now been given six weeks to deliver the money.

Ecclestone's family trust holding SLEC, which is joint owned by Germany's EMTV , holds the lucrative Formula One broadcasting and commercial rights until 2010 but agreed with FIA last year to extend them for around 100 years.

Ecclestone, who has run Formula One for the past 30 years, was given seven years to pay the rest of the money due on the rights, a sum FIA has refused to disclose.

The announcement comes after an article published today in the Financial Times reported that Ecclestone owned 258 million to the FIA.

Five car manufacturers - Fiat, Ford, Daimler-Chrysler, BMW and Renault - were thought to be negotiating the purchase of a share of Ecclestone's SLEC company, but now they have been linked to buying the 100-year television deal if Ecclestone fails to pay before the FIA General Assembly's next meeting on March 22.

The FIA statement from Mosley read: "There is no question of extorting money from Mr. Ecclestone. We are just trying to get the family trust to keep to their undertaking to agree a contract and make an initial payment of $60 million.

"This should have been done last July. We have now informed them that if they don't complete immediately, the next FIA General Assembly may decide to make other arrangements. This seems to be entirely reasonable."

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