By Jeff Jones
The Tour de France will be broadcast on French public television until at least 2013. The deal will extend to all events run by the Amaury Sport Organisation, including Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and several other classics, as well as the Paris-Dakar Rally.
The agreement comes some 10 days after a proposal to remove all advertising from French public television. This would almost certainly hurt France Télévisions' in bidding against commercial TV for the rights to show sports events.
"I'm delighted with the happy outcome of the negotiation," said Patrick de Carolis, president of France Télévisions in a statement. "The agreement signed between France Télévisions and the organisers of the Tour will allow viewers of the public service to continue to benefit from the best possible coverage of what remains the most popular sporting event in our country."
The contract renewal is opposite to the tack that was taken by German public TV (ARD and ZDF) last year, when they stopped broadcasting the Tour in protest against the doping scandals (German TV has agreed to broadcast the event this year).
"We have decided to join forces [with ASO] to fight doping," said Daniel Bilalian, France Télévisions' head of sport.