ITV renews Formula One coverage in £80m deal

ITV has held on to the lucrative Formula One motor racing TV rights, despite competition from the BBC. It has signed an &£80m deal which will run from 2002 to 2005.

Under the terms of the contract, ITV will continue to broadcast all Grand Prix races live on Sundays and qualifying stages on Saturdays. Highlights will be shown on Sunday nights, and starting next month, they will also be screened on ITV’s digital channel ITV2 on Mondays.

ITV chief executive Richard Eyre revealed the news on Monday at a presentation featuring some of the channel’s latest stars, including two lured from the BBC – Des Lynam and EastEnders actor Ross Kemp.

The F1 deal has been widely welcomed by media agencies. MindShare broadcast planning director Edward Lloyd Barnes says: “It’s good news because it attracts an upmarket, mainly male audience of light TV viewers, which is what a lot of advertisers want.”

Director of programmes David Liddiment unveiled the pick of the channel’s 2000 line-up, which includes new dramas starring John Thaw, Sarah Lancashire and Robson Green; a documentary on the life of Frank Sinatra; and a comedy drama with Michael Barrymore in the lead role. The Euro 2000 football championship is the main sporting event of the year, with this season’s UEFA Champions’ League coverage continuing into next summer.

ITV marketing and commercial director John Hardie said the channel’s peaktime share is running at 38.9 per cent, and that he expects the autumn schedule to push the figure to 39 per cent. He revealed how the ITV logo will now appear on screen alongside the regional company idents from November 8.

Leeds Sporting, the company which owns Premiership leaders Leeds United FC, has voted in favour of selling a nine per cent stake to BSkyB for &£13.8m.

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