End of German free TV deal 'about Vettel' – Ecclestone

Jun.23 (GMM) Bernie Ecclestone thinks the looming end of free-to-air television coverage of Formula 1 in Germany is due to the demise of Sebastian Vettel’s career.

Hot on the heels of Ferrari’s news last month that it will split with the quadruple world champion after 2020, the German broadcaster RTL has now announced that will also pull out.

Instead, Liberty Media has inked an exclusive deal with pay-TV broadcaster Sky Deutschland, with RTL’s sports director Manfred Loppe suggesting the new rights holder was “willing to pay double”.

But former F1 supremo Ecclestone told Blick newspaper: “RTL’s withdrawal from Formula 1 after 30 years is also to do with Vettel.

“Without him, they will lose their draw for live viewers. It will be interesting to see how Switzerland and Austria react as well,” he added.

Indeed, the Austrian free-to-air broadcaster ORF’s contract also runs out at the end of 2020. A spokesman told Der Standard: “We are in discussions.”

It is believed Red Bull’s Servus TV may be interested.

“Formula 1 rights are always interesting for a broadcaster, but we cannot say anything about it now,” the energy drink company’s Dietrich Mateschitz told Salzburger Nachrichten.

Kai Ebel, the colourful pit reporter for RTL, admits he is disappointed with Liberty Media for not fighting to keep F1 on free television.

“In this situation with corona and the weird season we are about to get, I actually expected some leniency from Liberty,” he told the Dutch publication Formule 1.

“What I mean is that we always portrayed the sport with great care, but this is ultimately about money,” Ebel added.

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