Fears on V8 Supercars coverage

THIS week's announcement that V8 Supercars had signed a new media rights deal with Fox Sports and the Ten Network to begin in 2015 has raised concerns as to the amount of free-to-air coverage that will be available.

The six-year $241 million agreement between V8 Supercars, Fox Sports and the Ten Network announced on Wednesday will be spread across $196 million in cash and $45 million in advertising.

The shock change came despite an increased bid from the Seven Network and has raised many questions.

While Fox is committed to showing every minute of practice, qualifying, support categories and the V8 championship live, and in HD, there remains no official word on the extent of the free-to-air component by Ten.

It has been suggested that possibly half the rounds will be shown live and the balance as a delayed highlights package, and if that's the case that is sure to raise the ire of the V8 fans.

V8 Supercars CEO James Warburton said they wanted to announce the deal first and then work through the full content plan, which will be announced when the 2015 calendar is released.

"This is a great boost for our amazing race teams and fans and will lead to unprecedented coverage on multiple platforms for our sport, never seen before on such a scale," Warburton said.

The Ten Network took on the TV rights in 1997 and provided coverage until the end of 2006 before it was taken over by the Seven Network in a six-year deal that was worth $28 million a year.

V8 Supercars and Seven then signed an interim two- year deal worth $10 million less a year that expires at the end of 2014.

Under the original six- year deal with Seven, the teams received a return of $800,000 per car per year but the current deal provides them with nothing.

Not surprisingly, the teams have expressed their delight at the new arrangement in the expectation that they will get a return to bolster their incomes, which have been under pressure from reduced sponsorship.

The new arrangement will mean that Ten will be very much the motorsport station with coverage of V8 Supercars, formula one and Moto GP.

Circuit upgrade

RESURFACING of the iconic 6.2-kilometre Bathurst circuit was due to be completed this week in time for the running of the Liqui-Moly 12-hour sports car race early in February.

The $2 million resurfacing program is part of a $6 million upgrade of the circuit that also includes additional concrete barriers, debris fencing and work to access roads.

The new surface is expected to provide a reduction in lap times across all categories as the existing surface has been in place since 2001 and had obviously deteriorated over the years.

A number of bumps have been removed to ensure a smoother surface, and overall the grip level should be substantially improved.

Tyre suppliers will be watching the 12-hour race closely to see if there is any tyre degradation as a result of the higher grip level, which is what the Moto GP teams experienced this year after the Phillip Island circuit in Victoria was resurfaced.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy and safe Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

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