North American F1 Coverage on Speedvision: 1998 FAQ

Tuesday March 17, 1998

Q. It's been announced that Speedvision has secured Formula One rights. What is/how do I get Speedvision?

A. Speedvision is a 24-hour a day, 7-day a week cable network dedicated to the vehicle enthusiast. Available in approximately 15 million homes, our programming is centered on 4 categories--Automotive, Motorcycles, Aviation, and Marine. Program themes include Competition/Events, Historical/Documentary, News and Information, Magazine/Lifestyle, and Instructional/How-To's.

Speedvision was founded by former ESPN CEO, Roger Werner, and is owned by Cox, Comcast, and Media One (formerly Continental). Speedvison is available on these and many other cable packages. It is also available on DirecTV, Primestar, and on C-band (Satcom C4, Transponder 11). Q. Why was the "F1 on Speedvision" package not announced earlier?

A. Speedvision was not informed by Formula One Adminstration, Ltd. of its exclusive live coverage of qualifying and race action until Thursday, March 5th. At that point, any pre-printed schedules (TV Guide, satellite magazines, racing periodicals, etc.) were outdated, and any announcments of Fox Sports Net replays were too late for print, and in many cases world wide web updates.

Q. Why was Speedvision/Fox Sports Net granted the rights when some of the Formula 1 audience in the US would not be able to access the race live?

A. Since being launched in 1996, Speedvision has aggressively sought to expand and improve its programming, especially in regards to Formula 1. For the 1996 season, we replayed F1 races the following Monday night with extensive studio analysis. For 1997, we began showing qualifying and race action LIVE. We came on 1/2 hour earlier with a pre-race show, set a policy to stay with F1 coverage as long as possible--including post race celebrations and press conferences. Formula 1 had never received this kind of attention in the US before. That kind of dedication, along with our other Formula 1 properties (F1 historical programming, mid-year and season in review shows, FIA world Rally, F3000, etc.) was certainly a factor in Formula 1 Administration, Ltd.'s decision on granting Speedvision US television rights.

Q. Is this a long-term deal, or will the coverage change throughout the season? I do not want to change cable companies/invest in a dish and have the coverage change this or next year.

A. The contract between Formula 1 Administration, Ltd. and Speedvision/Fox Sports Net is for the 1998, 1999, and 2000 Formula 1 seasons, with LIVE qualifying and race action on Speedvision (including a 1/2 hour pre-race show) as well as same-day race replays on Fox Sports Net, and Monday night replays on Speedvision in both East and West coast prime time.

Q. Many F1 fans were upset with the last minute announcement of Speedvision/Fox Sports Net's coverage of the GP of Australia. Due to the short notice, I was not able to view the race. How do you explain/what do you intend to do to accommodate a very dedicated audience?

A. We realize it was both disappointing and inconvenient for many F1 fans to either miss the GP of Australia or have to make other arrangements to see the race either live or on tape. Again, a great deal of the confusion was due to the late announcement by Formula 1 Administration, Ltd. as to who actually had the US rights. ESPN contributed to that confustion by listing and promoting F1 coverage without having secured the rights.

It is advised that you contact your local calbe company and demand Speedvision. Frankly, most cable companies will not be able to add Speedvision overnight--but it is not a wasted call. They do tally and consider subscriber input when choosing new additions to their systems. Cal 1-888-22-SPEED and your request is forwarded to your local cable company.

We recongize that due to the late announcement regarding our coverage, many viewers missed the rece. Therefore, for the GP of Australia only, Speedvision is willing to dub and mail copies of our Australia coverage to our domestic viewers (US Only), free of charge. This includes the 1/2 hour pre-race show, race coverage, and post-race coverage/analysis, podium celebrations and press conference. This is our way of making up for the short notice of coverage and is for the GP of Australia only. To request a dub, call 1-888-22-SPEED and enter prompt #6. This is the only way to request a dub and the offer is only available until March 20th. Supplies are limited.

Q. I live in Canada and was expecting to see live coverage of qualifying and race action as advertised. Where was it?

A. Speedvision is carried in Canada. Unfortunately, F1 rights are not distributed by network (for example, NFL is available on Fox and CBS, the NBA is available on NBC and TNT) but by country. Speedvision is not allowed to televise race action in Canada or any of its other International regions (including Mexico and Spain). This is not our choice; we must blackout coverage in certain areas. This is because F1 Adminstration, Ltd. sells International television rights to countless nations, regardless of what network(s) are available in that nation.

We are currently investigating the blackout issue for live qualifying in Canada and hope to be able to provide that service to Canadian viewers soon.

Q. Why do Speedvision Promos/Listings advertise in Canada if the program is just going to be blacked out?

A. The Speedvision promos you see on your TV in Canada are the same ones seen in the US. There is no separate feed (like the big 4 US networks have different feeds for the east and west coasts). You may have noticed the words "not available in all areas" on spots promoting internationally-affected programming. This, unfortunately, includes F1 coverage. We have no choice - the Local Rights Holder mandates we blackout programming.

Q. Race coverage issues. Why aren't your announcers on site? Why can't I see more timing and scoring? Where is your pit reporter? Why don't you show more on-board cameras?

A. Many great questions. Through our coverage of the GP of Australia you saw David Hobbs and Sam Posey calling the race from our studios in Stamford, CT. Obviously this is not something we are trying to hide from viewers, but a logistical necessity in terms of F1 coverage in the US. If Sam and Dave were in Australia, yes, they would have been able to circulate and perhaps obtain useful info to relay in the broadcast. But the reality is even at the race they would have been announcing in overcrowded, less than technically superior conditions. They would not be in a press booth or even looking at the racetrack, but at TV monitors from the back of a trailer. This does not mean the announcers or production team is out of touch with the event. Leading up to and during race weekend we are in close contact with not only most of the F1 teams but European correspondents Doug Nye (author of The Grand Prix Cars Vols 1 & 2), European motorsports producer Martin Stockham, Autosport and Racer Magazine writer Maurice Hamilton, and during qualifying and race action we are constantly on the phone with a correspondent in the press room.

Admittedly, we would love to:

Please know that we are doing everything in our power to to bring you the most comprehensive, thorough coverage of F1 ever seen in the US. We are committed to staying on after the race has ended for post-race celebrations and the press conference, an informative part of the coverage not often seen in recent years. We are proud to provide LIVE Qualifying and Race coverage wherever contractually permitted, and our 1/2 hour LIVE Pre-Race show proves our willingness to provide F1 fans proper attention to the sport they love. Same-day replays on Fox Sports Net and Monday Prime Time Replays (for both East and West coasts) on Speedvision further demonstrate our goal of presenting F1 in a new, ever-expanding light.

We are committed to you, the race fan, but we need your help as well. If you haven't yet, please call 1-888-22-SPEED as well as your local cable company and let them know you want Speedvision. The more homes we are in helps us bring you the programming you expect and deserve.

This 1998 Formula 1 FAQ was published because of the enormous reaction surrounding televised coverage of the 1998 World Championship. We hope this has answered many of your questions and look forward to your feedback in the future.


The Producers of Formula 1 on Speedvision.

For more information, visit the Speedvision Web Site

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