French Formula 1 viewers get free-to-air TV deal

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France will enjoy free-to-air broadcasting of four races next season thanks to a new deal signed between The Formula One group and popular French channel TF1.

TF1 was F1's historical partner in France until 2012, when pay channel Canal+ acquired the rights to the sport through 2020.

Vivendi Group's Canal+ extended its own multi-year contract with F1 back in May,

With the French Grand Prix returning to the calendar in 2018, TF1 has committed to a limited three-year deal by which it will broadcast live the Monaco and French races, and two more races to be determined.

It will also offer highlights of the remaining 17 races and distribute content on additional channels belonging to the TF1 Group.

According to French daily L'Equipe, TF1 is set to disburse 5 million for the rights to broadcast four races, while the contract of rival pay channel Canal+ is estimated to be valued at 54 million a year.

"This agreement marks the return of F1 to free-to-air on the TF1 TV channel, a long-standing partner of the sport, and forms part of our strategy to broadcast top-notch international sporting events," said Gilles Pélisson, TF1's Chairman and CEO.

"The whole group will mobilise to ensure that Formula 1 gets the largest exposure.

"We will be very happy to offer the sport to our audience possible at a time when our country will once again play host to a Grand Prix race on the legendary Le Castellet circuit."

Formula 1's TV ratings have been declining in recent years as the sport shifted to pay television, but Liberty Media is taking initiatives to build the audience once again.

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