The FIA is confident that it will nail down international television coverage for the World Rally Championship this week.
Following the loss of North One Sport as promoter and the subsequent collapse of talks with the Eurosport TV network, there had been grave concerns for footage from this year's series. Eurosport agreed a deal with the organizers of the Monte Carlo Rally and Finnish firm Filmworks did the same with last week's Rally Sweden.
The ideal scenario is the central distribution and sales of television coverage of the whole WRC. It's known that a deal had been made with Britain's ITV4 for more comprehensive coverage of WRC in 2012 and it's this kind of deal that the FIA is hoping it can achieve again for this season. Individual events have now been told to stop working with local broadcasters.
With an FIA-sanctioned deal ready to be signed this week, there are fears that, having been told by the FIA that the television rights to their events belong to the rallies, some event organizers will complete multi-year agreements with local stations and weaken the FIA's position to attract a series-wide promoter.
WRC Commission president Jarmo Mahonen told AUTOSPORT: "The television should be OK. I can't go into details, but we are working to the plans to have central distribution – we should come out with these plans in the next few days."
Mahonen admitted that the production of television wasn't a concern, adding, "That's the small part on this game. The big thing is about the distribution and maintaining the broadcasters [around the world]. Our aim is to plan and find a system very quickly for the central distribution of footage."
Asked if the FIA could distribute footage, Mahonen replied, "That is one possibility or you put it out to agencies – there are several agencies around the world who can do this."
Rally Sweden distributed the coverage it underwrote at a cost of nearly $400,000 to 30 broadcasters, ensuring the Jari-Matti Latvala's victory in the Karlstad-based event was seen in more than 120 territories last week.