Motorsport

Published: Friday December 20, 2013 MYT 12:17:01 AM
Updated: Friday December 20, 2013 MYT 12:17:15 AM

Formula One secures TV rights deal for Middle East

Formula One commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone walks in the paddock before the Turkish F1 Grand Prix at the Istanbul Park circuit in Istanbul May 8, 2011. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

Formula One commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone walks in the paddock before the Turkish F1 Grand Prix at the Istanbul Park circuit in Istanbul May 8, 2011. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One has agreed a new TV deal that covers the Middle East, a boost for the sport after Sebastian Vettel's domination led to criticism that it had become boring for viewers.

International media company MP & Silva has bought the rights in a six-year deal covering the Middle East and North Africa and starting from 2014, the first time it has been involved with Formula One.

"The purpose of this agreement is to help grow interest in Formula One throughout the Middle East and I am confident that MP & Silva can help us achieve that," Formula One Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone said in a statement.

MP & Silva effectively acts as a middleman, guaranteeing Formula One a price for the rights which it can then sell on to broadcasters in the region.

The sport retained a very strong appeal and Middle East interest had been fuelled by races in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, said Peter Hutton, chief operating officer with MP & Silva.

"We've taken a long term position with the sport," he said.

"If you look at Formula One, duels at the top of the sport have always existed," he added, saying Vettel's winning streak would face a strong challenge after his four straight world titles.

MP & Silva has also bought the rights for Poland and Romania from 2014 to 2019, and Bulgaria from 2015-19.

(Writing by Keith Weir, 44 20 7542 8022; editing by Justin Palmer)

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