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  Tuesday, 19 November, 2002, 17:37 GMT
F1 to boost TV coverage
Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone
Ecclestone hopes to arrest declining viewing figures

Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has moved to improve television coverage of the sport for the new season.

F1's digital TV facility is to replace local broadcasters in supplying pictures to all free-to-air television companies from the races in 2003, Ecclestone told BBC Sport Online.

The move comes after a season in which TV audiences declined dramatically in the wake of Ferrari's domination of the season and manipulation of results.

It should mean better overall coverage of the races - the digital production has generally been superior to that offered by terrestrial TV in recent years.

Rubens Barrichello and Juan Pablo Montoya lead the pack at the Belgian Grand Prix this year
Digital TV has captured more of the action in recent years
At least in part, this has been because Ecclestone had denied terrestrial broadcasters access to certain pictures

In particular, on-car camera coverage will now be available to all viewers regularly during broadcasts.

This had largely been denied to terrestrial viewers while Ecclestone tried to promote his pay-per-view service over the last seven years.

Ecclestone said the future of the pay-per-view service is "up in the air", but denied a report in a British newspaper on Tuesday that he had already decided to ditch it for 2003.

The new approach will mean that Ecclestone's company will have more control over ensuring that the best action is shown.

Local producers have been criticised for concentrating too heavily either on race leaders or local drivers - and not showing action at other places in the field.

Ecclestone's digital service often captured incidents that were missed by local companies, whose facilities were restricted.

Disappointed

Ecclestone said that he would try to customise TV coverage for each country.

Ecclestone admitted that he had been disappointed by the lack of popularity of pay-per-view.

It was first introduced in Germany in 1996, before spreading elsewhere in Europe in subsequent years - and to the UK for the first time last season.

"We did a super job, but there was just not the take up we expected," Ecclestone said.

A decision on the future of the pay-per-view service would be taken "soon," he said.

See also:

19 Nov 02 | Formula One
17 Nov 02 | Formula One
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