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BBC F1 boss: The bare facts are the BBC needs to save money
BBC F1 boss: The bare facts are the BBC needs to save money
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Jul 2011   |  5:11 pm GMT  |  150 comments

Ben Gallop the BBC’s Head of F1 has posted a blog on the BBC Sport website in response to what he calls “considerable reaction” – in other words the many thousands of comments both to the BBC and other websites – from F1 fans.

Gallop says that sports TV has now entered what he calls a “mixed economy” where large free to air broadcasters can no longer expect to cover big sporting events exclusively and must accept some sharing with pay channels, citing the Champions League as an example.

Gallop argues that the BBC had to scale down the amount of coverage it presents for financial reasons, but the trade-off is that at least half of the F1 season will still be on free to air TV,

Ben Gallop

“The bare facts are that the BBC needs to save money, “says Gallop. “Given the financial circumstances in which we find ourselves, we believe this new deal offers the best outcome for licence-fee payers.

“In a sense this partnership with Sky is another example of how the landscape of sports broadcasting has been transformed in recent years. There was a time when the BBC and other public service broadcasters could expect to televise all the big sports themselves. Now though we have a ‘mixed economy’, with some events on satellite while others are on terrestrial.

“And although this may be the first time the BBC has shared Formula 1 with another broadcaster, there is a long-standing pattern of partnerships between free-to-air and pay TV to cover major sports. So the Champions League can be watched on both Sky and ITV; US Masters golf is now shared between ourselves and Sky (with audiences for that event up this year); and then of course there is the Premier League – with live games on Sky and ESPN, while our ever-popular highlights programme Match of the Day keeps football fans entertained on a Saturday night.”

Gallop joined the BBC in 1998 after an early career as a journalist with SKY. He was made head of F1 shortly after they took over the sport in 2009.

Bernie Ecclestone met with the teams this afternoon and said afterwards,

“It’s good for Formula 1. For sure there are going to be a lot more people viewing, and a lot more opportunities for people to view, so from that point I’m very happy.

“I’ve been finalising this all night long and one or two things might change a little.”

“Sky will broadcast everything, all the races, live. The Beeb will do 50 per cent live, and when it isn’t live, they will be putting together a very good highlights package.

“They [the BBC] may yet do the whole race deferred, we have to see.”

This would make the deal similar to the model in Finland and Japan.

And his message to fans who cannot afford to take a SKY subscription?

“That’s where the problem is, “I know,” said Ecclestone. But from what I understand Sky has enormous coverage, 10 million homes.

“For those who can’t watch Sky, they can still watch on a Sunday night, which will probably be better than watching the whole race live half the time,” he added.

As for the races, it’s not yet clear how they will be divided up, but here’s what the 20 race calendar looks like at the moment:
18 March Australian GP
25 March Malaysian GP
8 April Chinese GP
22 April Indian GP
13 May Spanish GP
27 May Monaco GP
10 June Canada GP
24 June European GP
8 July British GP
22 July German GP
29 July Hungarian GP
2 September Belgian GP
9 September Italian GP
23 September Singapore GP
7 October Japanese GP
14 October Korean GP
28 October Abu Dhabi GP
4 November Bahrain GP
18 November US GP
25 November Brazilian GP

Read the full blog from Ben Gallop HERE

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Well what do people expect from Ben Gallop who used to work for Sky. I bet his brief as boss of BBC F1 was to do his utmost to bring about the situation that has come to fruition. Ben Gallop you have betrayed the BBC Licence holders, and I bet you recieved much more than 30 pieces of silver for your betrayal from the Murdochs.


F1 has been a major part of my life for this past 20+ years including missing close friends weddings, work, sex and sleep to watch either qualifying or race live. If greedy people like Bernie Ecc think that I will pay 500 quid per year plus TV license cost to Sky to watch the complete F1 championship live on Sky Sports then I’m afraid he has no grip on reality. One of the reasons Sky constantly give for their excessive charges is the cost of providing exclusive coverage of these top level sports such as cricket and football. I simply will not pay Sky for their coverage of other sports that I will never be watching just so I can watch the only sport that I personally enjoy. I reckon I won’t be the only person to feel this way. This move to Sky may well not make a huge dent in viewing figures but I reckon F1 will loose the avid fan like myself who doesn’t channel hop after the race has started to watch some of a football match and then a snippet of cricket only to turn back at the end of the race to see who wins. F1 will never be the same! Well done Bernie!


The Beeb have let the fans down and badly, Bernie Ecclestone lives in a dream world if he thinks the fans will go to sky and that the team sponsors will not suffer from this stupid Pay To View Deal, I have already E-mailed my bank to say so. I have watched F1 from God knows when, ever since I was old enough to know it existed and I am now 57, I will not subscribe to Murdochs empire to view F1 on principal even though I could easily afford it, as a lot of Fans cannot. If need be I will stop watching it all together, I will definately not be watching the BBC’s attempts at half coverage and will probably change my bank accounts based on the lack of input from the sponsors, that will hit them where it hurts. Eric


Further to posts 86 and 88 by EM,

(86) Sport for free! All those who watch sport on the BBC do not get it for free they pay through their TV licence.

(88) Reality check! I don’t know about you but I can not afford an extra £400+ a year for watching Formula 1 on SKY. In any case I would not pay it if I could afford it.

SKY have taken over too many sports coverage over the years, Football, Golf, and Cricket, to name just 3. The reason SKY are now interested in Formula 1 is down to the fantastic job the BBC, its presenters and production team have done in increasing the profile and viewing figures, after they were successful in the bidding process in 2009. The last two bidding processes for the TV rights, SKY did not bid, as far as I am aware. Its only now, when the viewing figures are over 6 million, that they want the sport, because they can see a profit in it, by charging an exorbitant amount to watch Formula 1. I hope it all backfires on Bernie and Murdoch when they don’t get the expected increase in paying customers.

If the BBC had been honest with the Formula 1 fans to begin with, when they were considering cutting the sport altogether, I would have been more than happy to pay extra for my TV licence, say £5, so if all 6 million Formula 1 viewers paid that, it would amount to £30 million. The problem would have been how to collect it from the Formula 1 fans.

Another party who may be responsible for this situation is the then Government (2009) who left Formula 1 off the Crown Jewel Sports that are preserved for Free To Air TV coverage. The alarm bells should have started to ring in March 2009 when the press highlighted that SKY would target Free To Air Sports.


Currently the F1 is available to everyone, including Sky subscribers. Soon, half the season will only be available to Sky subscribers. That’s not going to grow an audience! It’s plain common sense. I can understand now why such a bad decision has been made, when the people who made it cannot see this plain fact.

There was a comment above about going to the pub to watch the sport. There are currently very few places that show the F1 compared to say the football, and even fewer that can afford the outrageous subscription fees these establishments are forced to pay.

I practically pay my BBC licence fee just for the F1 nowadays. If I don’t get full F1 coverage, I don’t want to pay a full licence.


Thisis a great shame. Apart from idiot eddie, the BBC has a really strong team for its F1 broadcasts.

OK so I have to watch on Sky Sports. That’s OK too but what really bugs me is that the BBC has to save money and the turn immeditely to the world’s top sport to make the cuts.

I can easily save them money.

Drop Deadeners and that ..[mod] AWFUL One Show.

If F1 still needs cuts then very reluctantly I cut the practise session and the forum. This would be a pity but would nevertheless same money.


The beeb should have done a deal to raise the 20 million shortfall they are calling a saving they have to make. By using the top up tv on Free view which is available to almost every household in the UK at no extra cost, they could charge us 20 quid a race weekend for the full coverage and that would still be half the cost as on sky. Even if only 25% of the current viewers took it up it would still raise much more revenue than they are short. The BBC is unfortunately from the way it has evolved, is a very un-economic organisation to run. its trying to change but its the same as many other public sector operations it has to cut costs the easiest way it can and paying 20 million less for f1 rights is an easy saving. The BBC should employ a few more senior management from the likes of Tesco, they would find a way to squeeze the rights out of Bernie for 10% of what he gets now and tell him he’s getting a great deal, like they do with the farmers.


Can anyone explain why F1 should be different from any other sport? In the UK golf, football, darts, Rugby League, cricket, tennis, boxing and horse racing fans all have to pay extra to watch the best in their chosen sports.

Galling I know for F1 fans who can’t afford the extra but very much a reality check.

As I’ve said before if you don’t want to pay Sky through reality or principal you don’t have to but you will still get live races and comprehensive deferred coverage which is better than the whole lot being on Sky.


Re: “That’s where the problem is, “I know,” said Ecclestone. But from what I understand Sky has enormous coverage, 10 million homes.

As others have already said, the installed Sky base maybe 10 million but how many have Sky Sports? I pay almost £30p/mth for Sky but to get Sky Sports it will cost an ADDITIONAL £20.25 PER MONTH(£30.50 for those who have the HD pack) – it just ain’t gonna happen in this household!

If the TV rights cost about £40M p/a as reported, this equates to approx £1.60 per TV license holder (using 2009/10 figures of 24,963,799 TV licence holders) – a little over 1% of the licence fee.

The middle ground is surely ‘free-to-view’ commercial TV – ie with the dreaded adverts interupting the action 🙁

I knew the BBC were doing a great job – I guess just didn’t realsise how lucky we were…..


F1 fans welcome to the actual world of sport. It is a business and a product to be sold. You have no divine right to get F1 free. You don’t expect to get into Silverstone for nothing just because you’re a fan and so more people can look at the sponsor logos so why expect it with tv?

You now have a choice. Pay for Sky to see everything or stick with the BBC, get half for “free” and all the other good bits too. Or you can watch less of the sport.

There are far bigger injustices in the world rather than having a choice about whether to pay a bit to watch a bit of motorsport. I hope you are as passionate about airing your feelings on them.


Stan and Steve, free is in inverted commas in my post implying its not really free but often seen as free.

Sorry my post was confusing for you guys so let me restate my point amended to take into account your criticisms.

You have no divine right to get F1 on the license fee.


But the BBC has a divine right to our license fees! So should we just take every bad decision they make lying down?


Thats the first time i’ve ever seen having to pay £145 for a tv license described as getting something for “free”. Perhaps you’re not the one in your household that is responsible for paying for said license, in which case, I can see why you’d think Formula 1 comes for “free”.

For those of us who are responsible in our households for paying for this license, trust me, it seems its anything but free.

I just thought I’d give you an opportunity to re-think your comment. And yes, I’m very passionate about worldwide events, thanks.


What a completely arrogant comment to make. Nobody has been getting anything for “free”, for your information a tv license costs somewhere in the region of £140 per annum. If you think thats getting something for free then you must think that money comes from tree’s. Please at least get your facts right before trying to cheese people off.


Its a very great shame. Over the last 45 years I have tried to watch as much F1 as has been available. In the early years it was only edited highlights. I suppose that we have been totally spoilt with the recent coverage by the BBC. With 2 of the best commentating teams that you could ask for (the 5 live mob and the DC/MB team). At least F1 went out on a high… thanks guys and I wish you well. As for me its Goodbye to F1 as it was to Rugby & Cricket. There is actually no way I could pay money to the Murdoch family.


So Brundle and co. move to sky and the non-sky subscibers are left with half the races and a second tier commentary team?

Sky will have the sole rights as soon as concorde agreement expires. Bye bye F1. You will be missed, but asking us to pay Murdock/News International to watch our sport? Forget it.


No, same commentary team for both


Where did you here this? Any confirmation?

Would be a very good thing, assuming it includes Martin, and you?


I know Brits think they are important and all but remember the UK is only about 5% of the world audience. As much as this sucks if you are British it’s not exactly going to ruin the sport.


Just to highlight – that in 7 hours there have been over 3000 comments on the BBC site mentioned above… I’d say that this is a pretty big deal for the UK viewers



There have been over 1,000 here in the same time..


Indeed there have, and realistically you’re site is mainly the hardcore fans who go “looking” for F1 news… I know a lot of people who watch some F1 races and vaguely follow the season, just because it happens to be on TV as they flick through – they will all be lost on Sky

Likewise I watched loads of WImbledon and World Championship Athletics recently – but I only watched them because it “happened” to be there when I flicked through, I’d never go searching for channels just to watch these but yet I love them all the same


Unreal responce to that blog on the BBC. Its already on 2910+, by far and away the most commented blog on that site i believe and im yet to see one positive post!!


Bernie Ecclestone The man that killed off F1

Great one Bernie ,

You wanted financial support for F1 in TV rights & sponsorship deals.

Congratulations …..You got it,

You want what’s best for the fans………Bulls**t.

What’s the point of brand new circuits with great hospitality

& sponsorship deals worth millions when no-one can either watch or afford to watch the races.

F1 used to be a spectator sport but without the wide TV coverage ,how is the fanbase supposed to be sustained.

If you think that F1 can be supported just by the paying punters at each circuit then you are seriously deluded.

For those of us that can’t afford to go to the races in person,

the TV coverage (especially on the BBC, which has been superb this season) is our only way into this sport. Reduce the access to the sport via this widespread medium & all your sponsorship deals count for nothing, as there will be no-one watching to notice them.

Would you really try to sell sunglasses to a blind man ( or woman).

Well then!!!!!!!!!


P.S. Wanna save money at the BEEB,

Get rid of the Bl**dy soaps & repeats of the soaps.


James – what will they fill the now empty F1 time slots with? More football?


What utter rubbish from the BBC. BBC3 costs twice as much as the F1 does, and has contributed nothing to TV. Furthermore BBC4 costs the same as the F1, but is full of dumbed-down pretentious rubbish that no-one watches.

Instead of cutting back on F1 (something that peoplea ctually watch and enjoy), they should have just closed BBC3 and BBC4. No-one would have missed them.


The BBC seem to think that having an extra channel full of NOTHING is better than having one of the most popular shows on TV. CLUELESS IDIOTS.


Slightly off topic.. but thank God the opening race of the season is back in Australia where it belongs, hopefully. Atleast until Bahrain decide to fork over enough cash to steal it back again, for the good of Bernies wallet, but not for the good of the sport.

Michael Saunders

Highlights from Sky means 30 min of action in a 1 hour programme. Compare it to the rugby, football and cricket highlights.


“For those who can’t watch Sky, they can still watch on a Sunday night, which will probably be better than watching the whole race live half the time,”

[mod]. Best mates with Gerald Ratner are you Bernie?

Having said that, Gallop’s notion that sticking half the season on pay TV will ensure more viewers puts him on the top rung of the imbecile ladder.


If they need to save money………………..

DITCH BBC4!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

John Wainwright

That’s right BBC, save money so you can produce more banal episodes of Eastenders or Antiques in the Attic dross. Deeply disappointed from a long time defender of ‘Auntie Beeb’


That really is a non-argument, I don’t like Eastenders eithr, but plenty of people do, jus tlike plenty of people don’t like F1. As for the antique dross, the reason it gets made it is cheap daytime filler, perhaps you think they would replace it with expensive drama?


so everyone including sky customers get bbc1, yet moving it to sky means only those with sky and then with sky sports can see the races, Urm?? you twits how does that mean more people can see it?? stop forcing us into a world of comercial gains and give us back our motor sport!! yes sponsors can get involved and show their suport but we should not be forced to buy. BBC you have really let us down, you should hang your head in shame and bernie you should be made to answer for your actoins, i hope you keel over with shame the next time you meet a true fan, at least you wont have to far to fall:) PRATT


If the BBC really needed to save money, why would they pay £22 million for an X-Factor copycat show?

It’s not original TV, and doesn’t appeal to anyone that doesn’t already watch the X-Factor.

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