CHAMPCAR/CART: Championship Auto Racing Teams announces new television package

Championship Auto Racing Teams Announces Expanded Tv Deal With Cbs, Fox Cable Networks Group DETROIT (August 16, 2001) - Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) announced today that racing fans throughout the U.S. will be seeing a lot...

Championship Auto Racing Teams Announces Expanded Tv Deal With Cbs, Fox Cable Networks Group

DETROIT (August 16, 2001) - Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) announced today that racing fans throughout the U.S. will be seeing a lot more domestic television broadcasts of the CART FedEx Championship Series as a result of the television package CART has finalized with the CBS Television Network and Fox Cable Networks Group.

Citing the opportunity to expand the amount of programming devoted to its racing, as well as a commitment from its TV partners to significantly increase the promotional and marketing activity surrounding its racing, CART officials announced today that they have signed an agreement that will begin with the 2002 season and runs through 2004.

The amount of airtime featuring CART's Champ Car racing will increase by nearly two-thirds next season with Friday, Saturday and Sunday event coverage as well as supplemental programs airing on Fox's Speedvision network and its sister Fox Cable Networks. CBS Sports' portion of the package will find it carrying CART races during the heart of the 2002 FedEx Championship Series schedule.

"This is a terrific opportunity for everyone involved with CART and the FedEx Championship Series," said CART Chairman and CEO Joseph F. Heitzler. "First, we will provide current and potential fans, as well as all the constituents in the CART community, with 224 hours of CART programming in 2002 versus 139 in our current agreement. That is an increase of 61 percent and allows us to more frequently and effectively showcase the stars of our show - the drivers - and their awesome racing skills.

"Second, our television partners have assured us that they are genuinely committed to aggressively helping us grow CART racing and that they will promote and market their involvement with us, as well as build presence for our racing throughout the U.S.

"We are most appreciative of the support shown to CART by David Hill, Jim Liberatore and Jeff Shell at Fox and Sean McManus and Rob Correa, at CBS Sports," added Heitzler. "Their collective enthusiasm and dedication, coupled with the terrific sports heritage they and their networks have, will be great assets to CART and our sport as we move forward."

Both CBS and Fox have established themselves as media entities with the experience and expertise to build significant viewership in motorsports through their commitment to top-flight production qualities. CART Vice President of Broadcasting Keith Allo noted that the CART racing television product will benefit from the organization's ability to provide increased creative input under the new agreement.

"We are looking forward to working with our production partners at CBS and Fox," said Allo. "With the knowledge and experience we can provide about our product, we can assist our TV partners in more effectively presenting our racing to our fans. That, coupled with the talent and dedication at CBS and Fox, will allow us to create an enhanced television product that our fans will enjoy."

On each of the CART FedEx Championship Series weekends, Speedvision will provide an hour of live practice coverage on the first day of the race weekend - typically Friday - with two hours of live coverage then devoted to qualifying on Saturday. Sunday will find a live half-hour Speedvision pre-race program scheduled prior to either two-and-a-half or three-and-a-half hour broadcasts - depending on race length - of live racing coverage on either CBS or Speedvision. Under the agreement, Fox Cable Networks will absorb the production and air-time costs for all CART programming on their cable networks in exchange for advertising and in-car camera revenue.

Additionally, Fox Cable Networks and Speedvision will produce 24 half-hour programs entitled, "This Week in CART," which will focus on the activity behind-the-scenes in CART racing. Speedvision also plans to telecast special programming from CART's Annual Awards Banquet in November of 2002 and the annual CART Sneak Preview and All-Star Night early next year.

"Bringing back a CART magazine show on Speedvision will help us as we expand our marketing efforts for the series," said Heitzler. "We believe that, as more people get to know our drivers and the other personalities in CART racing, the more they will want to follow them on a regular basis."

Speaking on behalf of Fox Cable Networks, recently named Speedvision Networks President Jim Liberatore expressed enthusiasm with the addition of CART programming to the motorsports-specific channel, scheduled to reach 50 million households by early 2002.

"We are extremely pleased and excited about our new relationship with CART and look forward to 2002," said Liberatore. "This is the first step toward rebuilding and reinvigorating Speedvision. Fox's expertise as a motorsports broadcaster was proven this year with NASCAR and I believe CART, as a television product, has tremendous growth potential in the United States."

The CBS Sports broadcast schedule will fall primarily during the June and July portion of the CART season, with seven races planned for 2002. CBS Sport's Rob Correa, senior vice president of programming, shares the enthusiasm voiced by CART's Fox partners.

"CBS Sports has a motorsports tradition that goes back many years and we are very enthused about this opportunity with CART," said Correa. "The interest in racing in this country has grown significantly the past few years and we are dedicated to helping CART grow."

The CBS Television Network agreement enables CART to purchase the air time, currently at $235,000 per hour. Production services will be provided by Fox Cable Networks and will average $325,000 per race. CART retains ad revenues for the CBS events and, after recouping its costs, will split the net income with Fox Cable Networks on a 70/30 basis, with CART retaining the larger percentage. Fox Cable Network's sales force will be the exclusive sales agent for CART in selling advertising for the CBS races.

"We do not know at this time what the overall financial effect of this arrangement will be because it is, in part, dependent upon advertising revenues," said Thomas Carter, CART chief financial officer. "Another factor that plays a role in our television bottom line is our International television rights. Those negotiations are in progress and we hope to be able to make an announcement on those soon."

Each of the agreements, which were unanimously approved by the CART Board of Directors earlier this week, is for three years. Further financial terms will be disclosed following the completion of CART's International television negotiations. Details regarding talent and production personnel will be announced at a later date.

CART worked closely with Clearchannel Entertainment Television to create the new television package and Clearchannel Television Chairman Mike Trager believes the combination of CBS and Fox, coupled with CART's International television potential, makes CART a potent force in the world sports environment.

"CART's new television partners will significantly increase its current television exposure," said Trager. "That is quite an accomplishment in the present economic environment and substantiates the faith that CBS and Fox Cable Networks place in Joe Heitzler and the management team he has assembled at CART, as well as in the CART brand."

Statements made in this release that state the Company's or management's beliefs or expectations and which are not historical facts or which apply prospectively are forward-looking statements. It is important to note that the Company's actual results could differ materially from those contained or implied by such forward-looking statements. Additional information concerning factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements is contained from time to time in the Company's SEC filings including, but not limited to, the 10-K and subsequent 10-Q's. Copies of those filings are available from the Company and the SEC.

Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) owns, operates and markets the FedEx Championship Series. The series visits seven countries and four continents during the season and climaxes with the season-ending Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota on Sunday, November 4 at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Thanks to a partnership among Marlboro, Toyota, CART and California Speedway, the winner of the season finale will collect $1 million, one of the largest paydays in all of motorsports. An additional $1 million, as well as the prestigious Vanderbilt Cup, will be awarded to the driver who wins the FedEx Championship Series title.

Champions Michael Andretti, Gil de Ferran, Alex Zanardi and Jimmy Vasser are among the drivers who battle for the FedEx Championship Series title on oval circuits as well as temporary and permanent road courses. CART also owns and operates its top two development series, the Dayton Indy Lights Championship and the Toyota Atlantic Championship. Learn more about CART's open-wheel racing series at www.cart.com.

-CART-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Alex Zanardi , David Hill
Tags TV