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FOX gears up for Daytona 500 High-Def broadcast

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From Daytona
February 2, 2007

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New York -- Viewers, start your engines. When the green flag drops on the 49th Daytona 500, Sunday, February 18 (2:00 PM ET), FOX Sports’ multi-Emmy Award-winning NASCAR production team will be perched throughout the 2.5 mile tri-oval at Daytona International Speedway to take in every twist, pass and scrape at the most exciting and most-watched motorsports event in America. The broadcast will mark the network’s fourth presentation of The Great American Race and the first of a new rights agreement that designates FOX Sports as The Official Television Home of The Daytona 500 through 2014.

Prior to live, exclusive coverage of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18, FOX Sports launches its 2007 NASCAR on FOX season under the lights of Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, Feb. 10 (8:00 PM ET) with a prime time presentation of The Budweiser Shootout. This 70-lap exhibition pits the fastest of the fast as pole winners from the previous year and past champions go all-out in a spark-filled sprint for the purse. The following afternoon, on Sunday, Feb. 11 (2:00 PM ET), FOX Sports presents live coverage of Daytona 500 Qualifying as the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series’ best test their skills in a race against the clock that determines who claims front-row starting positions in the following Sunday’s Daytona 500.

“The Daytona 500 is a true marker on the major sports event calendar and we’re proud to be the television home of this spectacular event through 2014,” said FOX Sports Chairman David Hill. “As always, FOX Sports continues to work with every aspect of our coverage, be it our High Definition pictures or our innovative audio techniques, to make the fans at home feel as though they’re as close to the action as possible.”

FOX’s set-up is already underway at Florida’s storied Superspeedway with its 31 degree banked turns. The network’s production army, which will eventually swell to nearly 300 personnel on race day, is currently positioning High Definition cameras, specialized microphones and miles of fiber-optic cable, all designed to bring fans closer to NASCAR’s powerful hair-raising action than ever before.

EQUIPMENT
For its coverage of the 49th Daytona 500, FOX Sports is employing seven mobile production units, a new, state-of-the-art “Hollywood Hotel” traveling prerace set, one graphics truck, one uplink transmission unit, two edit suites, one audio submix truck, and a quad generator capable of outputting nearly a megawatt of power. In addition, the FOX Sports production compound at Daytona International Speedway features six office trailers and support vehicles. This command center directs the following arsenal of production equipment:

• 20 Manned cameras
• 2 Super slow motion cameras, capturing 180 frames per second
• Cablecam
• 10 Robotic cameras
• 16 In-car camera packages, each featuring three cameras
• 6 Stationary POV cameras, including “Grass Cam” and “Wall Cam”
• 3 Prerace cameras
• 25 Video replay devices with over 72 channels of recording/playout
• 43 Race team communication radios, one for each car on the track
• Over 150 microphones placed along the track and throughout Daytona International Speedway


CREW
A staff of approximately 300 production, technical and support personnel are expected to consume approximately 12,700 bottles of water, 125 gallons of coffee, 4,800 bottles/cans of soft drinks and over 5,000 meals during Daytona SpeedWeeks.

CABLECAM
First featured during NFL on FOX coverage in 2003, this 80-pound HD camera hovers 30-feet above a 250,000 square-foot area of Daytona International Speedway, delivering unique perspectives of the front stretch, pit road and the start/finish line.

“GRASS CAM” and “WALL CAM”
Among FOX Sports’ six unmanned stationary cameras positioned throughout Daytona International Speedway are “Grass Cam” and “Wall Cam.” These two miniature cameras designed to capture amazingly up close views of the cars racing—and sometimes—sliding by.

FOX SPORTS HIGH DEFINITION
For the third straight year, the entire NASCAR on FOX season—a schedule that includes 15 NASCAR Nextel Cup races, one NASCAR Craftsman Truck race and Daytona 500 qualifying—will be broadcast in 720p High Definition. In September 2004, FOX Sports established itself as the industry’s leading High Definition sports broadcaster by presenting six NFL games in High-Definition and crystal clear Dolby 5.1 audio each Sunday. It marked the first time that a broadcaster offered as much in a single day and led the way towards the network’s substantial HD sports offerings in its NASCAR, MLB and BCS coverage. FOX Sports continues to hold a vanguard position in this domain.

DOLBY 5.1 -- CRANK IT UP!
An element of live event coverage that often plays a supporting role has stood center stage at FOX Sports since its inception in 1994: audio. FOX Sports Chairman David Hill’s passionate quest to capture the sounds of the game or race and deliver them to the viewers at home has already led to an impressive 10 Sports Emmy Awards for Outstanding Sound/Audio, including two for NASCAR on FOX.

The 2007 NASCAR on FOX season ushers in a new era of FOX Sports’ painstaking audio efforts as new fiber optic Light Winder technology audio boxes surround the track. Light Winders channel sophisticated digital outputs through three audio production mixing consoles. The end result is a potent Dolby 5.1 delivery of raw power and speed that distinguishes the unique and visceral experience of a NASCAR event.

A celebrated feature of FOX Sports’ race coverage that made its debut at the 2001 Daytona 500 is “Crank it Up”, a portion of the broadcast in which the announcers in the broadcast booth silently observe the action, or “lay out” while key microphones strategically placed around the track are opened to reveal a surround-sound audio experience that is unmatched in sports broadcasting.


DAYTONA 500 TELEVISION RATINGS FACTS
• Over the last five years the Daytona 500 has established itself as one of the biggest events in sports. The last five races have averaged a 10.6 rating nationally, which is better than the average rating of the last five NBA Finals (9.0 average from 2002-2006 on NBC and ABC). Compared to other major Winter/Spring sports events, the Daytona also beat the average of the last five final rounds of The Masters (8.6) and the last five Kentucky Derbies (7.0). In non-Winter Olympic years, the Daytona 500 is typically the highest-rated sports event between the Super Bowl and the Final Four.

• The 2006 Daytona 500 was seen in more homes than any other race in NASCAR history. The 11.3/23 race rating was the highest in NASCAR history, and 36.7 million Americans saw at least some of the race.

NASCAR ON FOX PRODUCTION ACHIEVEMENTS
FOX Sports continually achieves a hard-earned distinction as television’s most innovative sports broadcaster, and ranking high among the network’s achievements are those on behalf of its NASCAR coverage. NASCAR on FOX has already amassed nine Emmy Awards over its first five years of coverage (note: the 2006 Sports Emmys have yet to be awarded), including two for Outstanding Sports Series (2001, 2005), two for Outstanding Live Event Audio Sound (2002, 2005), one for Outstanding Graphic Design (2001), and four for Outstanding Technical Team Remote (2001, 2003-05). No broadcast sports television package has won as many awards over the same stretch of time.

NASCAR ON FOX BROADCASTERS
Complimenting NASCAR on FOX’s outstanding production efforts is the most popular on-air broadcast team in the history of the sport. NASCAR driving legend Darrell Waltrip and two-time Daytona 500-winning crew chief Larry McReynolds jumped right from the car and pit box, respectively, in 2001 to join veteran race announcer Mike Joy in the FOX Sports booth. The trio instantly formed a chemistry that has produced an entertaining brand of coverage enjoyed by both fans and critics.

NASCAR.com’s recent 2006 Fans Voice Awards, in which 250,000 votes were cast, crowned Mike Joy and Darrell Waltrip as overwhelming favorites among NASCAR’s vast and loyal fan base. Joy captured 57% of the votes for Best Play-by-Play Announcer, prompting the report to note that he is “quickly becoming the voice of NASCAR.” Waltrip stood atop the Best On-Air Analyst tally, earning 38% of votes; he was followed by fellow FOX analyst McReynolds who garnered 20%.

Prior to the green flag, NASCAR on FOX’s coverage originates from the network’s now famous “Hollywood Hotel” traveling prerace studio that is positioned within the infield of the speedway amid the brisk activity of the garage, pits and prerace preparations. Prerace coverage is hosted by Emmy Award-winner Chris Myers, former championship crew chief Jeff Hammond, and Waltrip. This season, a brand new, state of the art Hollywood Hotel opens for business (a future release will detail its new and improved features). Myers and Hammond regularly contribute to NASCAR on FOX’s race coverage as well, offering race recaps as well as pertinent illustrations on the Ford Cut-Away Car and FOX’s own Car of Tomorrow. This season, Hammond adds a new element to his range of activities as he will occasionally emerge from the Hollywood Hotel in order to climb a pit box and conduct live, in-race crew-chief to crew-chief interviews, an unprecedented feature of NASCAR coverage.

Rounding out the NASCAR on FOX on-air team are four experienced and accomplished reporters who patrol pit road throughout the broadcast day, contributing reports and live interviews with the drivers, crewmembers and NASCAR officials shaping the action. Filling those important roles are Dick Berggren, Steve Byrnes, Matt Yocum and a new addition, Krista Voda, who joins NASCAR on FOX after several years of experience with FSN and SPEED.

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