Mediapro Puts Spanish Formula 1 Rights Up For Sale

24 REP Formula One
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Formula One CEO Bernie Ecclestone (third from right), "Napoleon" in the British tabs, got his start in facing in 1949.

The company is unable to pay some $52 million this year for the rights.

MADRID - Spain's Mediapro is auctioning off its exclusive Formula 1 rights to its competitors due to its inability to pay the €45 million ($52 million) due this year, according to Spanish news reports.

No one was immediately available at Mediapro to confirm, but Spanish daily El Mundo reported the company had announced its willingness to reach agreement on the rights prior to Feb. 6.

Mediapro, which bought the exclusive rights in May 2007 for five years up to and including 2013 for a reported €200 million to be paid incrementally, is in the midst of merging its free-to-air television channel La Sexta with Planeta's Antena 3.

Antena 3 and Telecinco are the only broadcasters in the Spanish market that could foot the bill for the rights. Antena 3 can't simply assume the rights as market regulators still need to green light the merger.