The FIA is believed to be on the verge of confirming an agreement for World Rally Championship television rights, at least until the end of the season.
The manufacturers and event organizers met with FIA president Jean Todt and WRC Commission president Jarmo Mahonen in Paris yesterday, with the likely outcome of the meeting being that the European Broadcast Union will take on the production and distribution of television from WRC rounds until the end of the season. A longer term agreement between EBU and the governing body has been talked about.
A source from within the manufacturers' meeting said they were pleased with the possible EBU option.
"It sounds like a good way forward," said the source. "The WRC needs the television to breathe, so we need to make this happen. The [EBU] will, we believe, take some of their own people to rallies and rely on some of them on the ground locally. Once they have made the pictures, EBU can then talk to its members in all countries in Europe about running them."
Once EBU is in place, one of the first tasks will be to start renegotiating with key TV networks. The individual event organizers in the WRC have now signed an agreement with the FIA confirming they will not do their own deals – a significant shift from the letter issued early last month from Mahonen telling organizers: "Each WRC organizer will, unfortunately, have to negotiate the television broadcasting of his event."
Rally Sweden was the first event to do that – and did so successfully, with the event organizers reportedly turning a profit in excess of 100,000 euros from the second round of the series.
Rally New Zealand chairman Peter Johnston said: "We are very pleased to see a sound outcome from the present situation as the FIA takes the reins. With their coordination of the television media services, facilities and distribution, we can feel confident that the 2012 FIA World Rally Championship will continue to run to its usual high standards."