Sunday February 18th, 2001
Michael Schumacher said on Saturday that he plans to keep close tabs on Bernie Ecclestone's negotiations over the future of Formula One - because he is convinced he will be affected by the outcome.
The Ferrari driver believes that the outcome of a deal for EM.TV and Kirch to buy a further 75 per cent stake in SLEC, Ecclestone's family trust which holds the commercial rights to Formula One, could impact his future heavily.
"It does interest me what will happen with the sport, because it has become very important to me and is a very meaningful part of my life," Schumacher said on German television programme Wetten Das.
The German also stressed fears that media giant Kirch will switch Formula One to pay-per-view television and vowed that such a move will damage the sport.
He added: "I think what Bernie has to deal with I wouldn't choose for myself. Personally, I'm quite satisfied with my responsibilities.
"The fact is though, that Formula One would only be available on pay TV - I don't believe that would be a good idea. Much of the audience who are excited and watch motorsport won't be able to follow that.
"I would very much oppose that suggestion. I want everybody to have the same chance to view their programme of choice - in this case Formula One."
Kirch have struck a deal to purchase 24.5 per cent stake of EM.TV's 50 per cent share in SLEC and also get a 25 per cent voting interest in EM.TV.
According to reports, the EM.TV/Kirch agreement has also negotiated to buy an extra 25 per cent share in SLEC, leaving them with a 75 per cent holding in Formula One.