TV rights fight to stall Champ Car TV coverage The hugely popular V8 Supercars are in danger of being lost to the Surfers Paradise Indy because of a nasty wrangle over TV and race rights.
A bitter showdown is looming between key Queensland motorsport figures after Network Seven last week pulled out of its contract with the Gold Coast Motor Events Company to televise the Champ Cars at next year's Indy festival.
Instead, it has committed to only televising the V8 Supercars, which share equal billing on the Indy program with the US-based Champ Cars.
This would cut broadcasting coverage of the Indy festival from 11 to three hours.
The brawl over the Gold Coast Indy follows a decision yesterday by the Queensland Government to reject a grandiose plan from V8 Supercars for a marquee race through the streets of Townsville.
Commenting on the Cabinet decision not to proceed with Townsville, V8 Supercar boss Tony Cochrane dropped a bombshell about the future of the V8s on the Gold Coast, citing concerns with the Gold Coast Motor Events Company.
"This decision may now affect V8 Supercars' involvement with the Indy race on the Gold Coast," he said.
"I can't elaborate any more at this point in time ... (but) the Townsville decision is part of an ongoing concern we have with the Gold Coast Motor Events Company's commitment to V8 Supercars."
Gold Coast Motor Events Company is owned 50 per cent by the International Management Group and 50 per cent by the Queensland Government.
New general manager Greg Hooton said last night that he did not see how the decision in Townsville could be linked to the future of the V8s on the Gold Coast.
"Indy is Indy and we all know that it's the leading motorsport event in the country," he said.
"I certainly have a concern with our relationship and that of the V8s.
"I am confident that the whole race, not just one category, will be broadcast next year."
For the past decade, Network Ten has held the TV rights to the Champ Car and V8 races at Indy but Network Seven won the rights to broadcast the V8s in a $160 million, six-year deal stitched up earlier this year.
Under the terms of the new contract, V8 Supercars will take over the production of the TV coverage, under the supervision of Seven's sports boss Saul Shtein.
The Gold Coast Indy festival attracts 316,000 spectators over the four days, making it a marquee event for V8s, right up there with Bathurst and the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide. Gold Coast Bulletin