Commission welcomes progress towards resolving the long-running FIA/Formula One Case
Following a meeting today with Max Mosley, President of the Fédération Internationale de l ‘Automobile, and Bernie Ecclestone, CEO of Formula One Administration, European Competition Commissioner Mario Monti announced that very significant progress has been made in the Commission’s FIA/Formula One case. This case involves important issues relating to the management and governance of motor sport in general, as well as specific issues relating to the broadcasting and related rights for Formula One motor sport.
In June 1999, the Commission, on a preliminary basis, objected to a number of features of the previously existing arrangements. In particular, the Commission objected to what it saw as a conflict between the legitimate role of the Fédération Internationale d’Automobile (FIA) as the regulator of international motor sport and its interests in the commercial side of motor sport. These arrangements resulted, in the view of the Commission, in Formula One Administration (FOA), the company which markets the rights to Formula One races, being able to impose restrictive contracts with third parties.
Following lengthy discussions with FIA and with FOA which began in Spring 2000, substantial modifications to FIA’s rules and commercial arrangements have been made and further changes agreed to in principle. As a result, the Commission is satisfied that the FIA’s role in future will be limited to that of impartial motor sports regulator. FOA has sold its interest in Rallying and all other forms of motor sport other than Formula One, and has agreed to make a number of changes to the current arrangements relating to the marketing and broadcasting of Formula One races.
The changes already adopted, together with those agreed in principle, will benefit all citizens interested in motor sport, as well as the sport’s participants. The continued role of FIA as the regulatory authority will ensure that the existing high safety standards for participants and spectators will be maintained. At the same time, the changes allowing the introduction of new and competing forms of motor sport and creating new possibilities for circuits and broadcasters, will bring more choice to consumers both as spectators and as television viewers.
Commissioner Monti stated that
‘the new rules, together with the significant number of undertakings offered by the parties and changes to the marketing and broadcasting arrangements, seem to us to amount in principle to a satisfactory solution. Accordingly, I intend to ask my services to prepare a Notice which will be published in a few weeks’ time and which will invite third parties to submit their comments to the Commission.’
In the light of this progress towards the resolution of a long running and difficult case, and as all complaints have now been settled, the Commission is in a position to give its preliminary approval to the modified rules and arrangements. However, before giving its final approval, the Commission wishes to give third parties the opportunity to comment. To this end a full description of the new arrangements, an Article 19(3) Notice, will be published in the Official Journal of the European Communities in the coming weeks, and third parties will be invited to submit their comments on the new arrangements to the Commission.
The following are the main elements of the changes agreed by FIA and FOA:
FIA has amended its regulations to strengthen the rights of motor sport organisers, circuit owners and participants, and to make it clear that FIA will act impartially as between all forms of motor sport for which it is the regulator;
FIA will no longer have a commercial interest in the success of Formula One and the new rules will remove any obstacle to other motor sports series competing with Formula One;
FIA will retain its rights over its championships and the use of the ‘FIA’ name and Trade Marks but has removed from its rules any claim over the broadcasting rights to events that it authorises and has agreed to waive any claim to broadcasting rights under the relevant clauses in the Formula One agreement (the ‘Concorde Agreement’);
FIA has made it clear that its decisions will always be reasoned, and that those decisions may be challenged before national courts;
The FOA group of companies has sold its interest in all forms of motor sport including Rallying and will therefore only have an interest in Formula One (Mr Ecclestone will no longer handle FIA’s promotional affairs and will also reduce his role in FIA in other ways);
FOA has agreed to limit the duration of its free-to-air broadcasting contracts (to five years in the case of host broadcasters and three years in other cases) and has removed provisions which penalised broadcasters which wanted to broadcast other forms of open wheeler racing.
For more details contact:
Tel: +32(0)2 299 4009