News Corp interest in Formula One not affected by phone-hacking scandal says Martin Whitmarsh

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McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh does not believe the phone-hacking scandal gripping Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation will bring an end to the company's interest in taking control of Formula One.

News Corp, in conjunction with leading European investment firm Exor, announced they were working on a potential buy-out of the sport in May, although their interest was never firmed up with an offer to F1's current owners, CVC Capital Partners.



The landscape at News Corp has since changed dramatically, with the News of the World - a key publication in subsidiary company News International's portfolio - having closed down on the back of a raft of damaging allegations.



Those same allegations also led to the resignation today of Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News International, and speculation rages over the long-term implications for the Murdoch family.



Yet Whitmarsh feels the events of the past few weeks should not be seen to spell the end of News Corp's F1 aspirations, although he questioned whether such a move would be in the best interests of the sport.



"They've got a lot of challenges at the moment in the UK, but nevertheless we all know that News International and News Corp will be alive and powerful in the media in 12 months' time," Whitmarsh told the official Formula One website.



"They will move on, but there will be casualties, as they've closed down a newspaper, which none of us would have believed two weeks ago.



"It's a dynamic time. But News Corp is a £20billion or whatever turnover news corporation, so I am sure they will remain a big player.



"But I don't think that Formula One needs to rush into their arms."



Certainly any future News Corp takeover runs the risk of flying in the face of the existing Concorde Agreement - the contract that sets down the terms by which teams agree to race - which states that F1 should be shown on free-to-air television in major markets.



The free-to-air policy is also supported by the European Union, and any attempt to change that is certain to lead to protracted legal wrangles.



"There are a number of issues with News Corp," Whitmarsh continued.



"There is a lot of concern over pay-per-view, which has been historically the Sky model and that is probably not suitable for Formula One.



"I think we should be open-minded looking at what is in the best interests of the sport in the long term.



"There will always be controversies in and outside our sport so we have to be balanced and look at how we can promote, develop and sustain our sport."

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