Toyota agrees £80m ITV sponsorship deal

LONDON - ITV and Toyota have agreed on a four-year sponsorship package worth £80m for the network's coverage of Formula 1 motor racing, starting next season in April 2002.

The deal covers sponsorship, worth £25m, and advertising, and will include the ITV-F1 website and promotions through other media.

Toyota saw off competition from Foster's, the Australian lager brand, to win the rights to sponsor all 17 races of the season, along with qualifying sessions and highlights programmes.

The deal comes as Toyota prepares to launch its own Formula 1 team next year.

It is a lifeline for ITV, which is suffering more than other terrestrial networks as advertising sales slump. Reports say that ITV's ad revenues are expected to have fallen by 14.5% since the beginning of the year, against an industry average of 9.5%.

Granada and Carlton Communications, the two ITV network companies, have seen their share prices fall dramatically this year. Carlton faces expulsion from the FTSE 100 this week.

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