Rally championship action switches to ITV in UK

MUMBAI: The World Rally Championship (WRC) will move from Channel 4 to ITV1 in the UK. ISC, the TV and commercial rights holders to WRC has signed a new three-year agreement with ITV1.


In India, AXN will start airing WRC action. As reported earlier by during the course of the year, 16 races will take place in different locations such as Europe and Australia. The Monte Carlo race kicks off the championship from 23-25 January and will be aired on AXN on 30 January at 9 pm. Highlights of each race will air on the following Friday at the same time.

Meanwhile, ITV1 will all 16 rallies in the 2004 WRC calendar with a comprehensive one hour programme on every Sunday afternoon of each event. In addition, ITV1 will broadcast a 30-minute magazine show previewing and reviewing each rally and extended coverage of Wales Rally GB.

Explaining the decision behind the switching of broadcasters ISCs MD Simon Long had the following remarks to make in an official release. "Channel 4 has played a key role in raising the profile of WRC in the UK. During the past two years; their coverage has brought innovation and excitement to coverage of the sport. However ITV1s ability to give WRC a guaranteed regular Sunday afternoon slot - as part of its commitment to become the home of motorsport - is critical to grow our fan base and establish a mainstream appointment slot for WRC in the UK."

ITVs sport controller Brian Barwick added, "We are delighted to become the new home of the World Rally Championship. This will be a year-round white knuckle ride in some of the most exotic locations in the world, featuring the ultimate test of both driver and car against the elements. We hope by giving it a regular Sunday afternoon slot we can attract not only the committed rally fan, but also bring a wider audience to the sport."

Channel 4s David Kerr was not exactly unhappy to see WRC off the programme schedule. He said, "We have enjoyed our association with the WRC and have been able to introduce some of the innovations that have allowed us to revolutionise coverage of the sport on TV, including Virtual Spectator.

" However the irregularity of the sports calendar means that in an increasingly competitive television environment we are unable to continue guaranteeing the slots for it. We feel that the agreement is the best one for the sport and its fans and wish the WRC continued success in the future."

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