F1 Winter Break
Talk of BBC F1 pullout ramps up as Ecclestone mentions “settlement”
Posted By: James Allen  |  19 Jul 2011   |  5:47 pm GMT  |  307 comments

It is noticeable that in recent days there has been more discussion centring on the likelihood that the BBC will pull out of its contact to cover F1 racing. The matter is of interest beyond the borders of the UK as the race commentary is taken by most English speaking countries around the world, as it was in my days with ITV.

BBC took over the rights from ITV at the end of 2008, when the UK’s largest commercial broadcaster pulled out two years before the end of its contract. This was in order to fund spend on football rights.

It would be very unfortunate for the sport and would send out some negative signals if the main broadcast contract in the UK were to be handed back prematurely for a second time, but the BBC is contemplating just that as it seeks to make significant cuts in its budgets.

New BBC Trust chairman Chris Patten was asked recently on a BBC TV show whether F1 was in line to be dropped and he replied in general terms about things that the corporation “would like to do but can no longer afford to.” Staff at the BBC are braced for a significant round of job cuts across all departments. I’ve heard some staff express fear that as much as 10% of them could be laid off.

There is no doubt that although F1 enjoys some strong support from certain factions within the Corporation, in the current economic context there is also a very powerful lobby against it.

The F1 rights will be costing somewhere in the region of £45 million a year and looking at the scale of the production and the staffing levels, that’s probably another £8 to £10 million a year.

Express writer Bob McKenzie, who speaks frequently to Mr Ecclestone and whose daughter Lee is a reporter on the BBC F1 coverage, has written a story today with a settlement figure of £50 million mentioned. Although Ecclestone mentions the word “settlement” he does not mention a figure directly.

“It would be like any contract I sign with people, either on my side or theirs – it has to be honoured,” Ecclestone told the Express.

“I always stand by a deal and I would expect them to do the same. Obviously if they ended the contract early there would be a settlement, otherwise I suppose we would have to sue.

“The BBC have done a great job and we obviously do our part in supplying great sporting entertainment.”

He wouldn’t be talking this way if this story was mere speculation. This suggests to me that the negotiations with the BBC over the exit are ongoing or imminent.

There has been some speculation in the F1 paddock that the BBC might even be looking to get out at the end of this year, but my understanding from contacts in the Sports TV industry is that we are talking about the end of 2012, which would be one year before the scheduled end of the current five year contract.

Ecclestone has been quoted saying that he’d offer it to Channel 5, but the current favourite within the TV industry to get the rights is Channel 4, which has a good record in minority sports and which did an excellent production job on Test cricket, winning many awards.

However the talk of Channel 5 will be as much about trying to create a market to get the rights fee up as anything else. I’m not sure Channel 5 can afford to do F1.

If Channel 4 do get it, one would hope that they’d innovate as they did with cricket and I’m sure that they would. But it’s an expensive sport to cover well.

So F1 fans in the UK will have to accept that the current coverage is probably the high water mark of F1 coverage in this country. Having no commercial breaks and a very large production budget mean that UK fans are in a very privileged position compared to fans in other countries.

This clearly cannot continue. So viewers should enjoy it while it lasts.

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Just A Bloke (Martin)


Adverts or Sky both are equally bad. The BBC coverage is superb and strikes a balance between "general public" and "expert" viewers.

It's got to stay on the Beeb


Surely Ecclestone has hurt himself by the excessively high price. If ITV and the BBC both pull out of expensive contracts, then the only free-to-air competitors are Channel 4 and 5, both of which are relatively poor, so he'll get far less money. And going to Sky is problematic because it would infuriate the fans and the sponsors and the company is not exactly held in high regard at the moment.

So Ecclestone is bound to get far less money if the BBC pulls out. He'd do better offering to reopen the contract and reduce the price to keep them on board, saving face by talking about the new climate after the recession.


If every F1 fan donated one dollar to the BBC, the BBC would make $500 million on the spot.

I hear lots of people screaming and yelling. But remember, "money talks."


Except the BBC is not a charity and would not accept donations. It is a highly regulated PUBLIC SERVICE broadcaster with a very strict charter and board of governance.


We have to put up with Advertisements which go for four minutes after every ten minutes of coverage. Most of the advertisements are for artificial hair. It is so infuriating. I don't watch grand prix anymore. I'd rather not see them then put up with advertisements for fake hair which has ruined my life. I have to be constantly reminded how my life has been ruined. I want $6 million in compensation from these companies and not one penny less.

Grayzee (Australia)

Sounds like ONE HD, here in Oz.

But, I quite like the commentary.....though hate the ads.....hair replacement therapy, brut deoderent, shannons insurance and Teac TVs....the ads must work though, cos I bought a TEAC TV and have Shannons Ins! 🙂

But it's free to air, so ads are expected. Seriously, in the land downnunder, I don't really care who gets the rights, so long as SOMEONE does!!

BTW, I feel MB is good for technical info, but loses the way at times in general commentary (bring back Mr Allen). DC is okay, but EJ?...nup.


Keep Brundle and Kravitz, give James Allen his old job back....get rid of the freeloaders.A more effective (and cost efficient) team.

Tired of the so-called 'analysis' dished out by Jake Humphrey (has he got a drivers licence?), Eddie Jordan, and Coulthard. That's where the huge cost of coverage comes from - I'm sure they're each getting 7 figure fees...all expenses paid as well. Total waste of money.


I would have to disagree on getting rid of EJ and DC..altough I'm not in the area that BBC commentary covers,I enjoy downloading the torrent every other mondays after the race.

I find Jake,DC,and EJ very entertaining and we have to admit that EJ brings us more access to the paddock (such us Force India's garage in Monaco). And DC brings more current driver's point of view of the race. Brundle is great,but let's face it,it's been a gazillion Formula-1-years since he drives an F1 car.

It would be a great loss if we don't have BBC coverage of F1 anymore.I hope that won't happen...


Martin brundle is the only driver that can say he has driven an f1 car with Schumacher and senna as team mates and be fast enough to keep them honest. His achievement outside f1 speak for themselves. When Toyota and bentley required a proven driver for le mans who did they turn to. He might not be up to date on f 1 tech that's why he insisted on dc being in the commentary box and uses him for that purpose.


All this talk of keeping this or that person and get rid of the next is pointless because this decision is politically driven and not grounded in real world commerce and or finance. Saving a few salaries here or there is not going to change some people's mind about spending public money on what those same people consider the fatest, most opulant and wasteful sport in the world.


Totally agree, Brundle - excellent, Humphrey - nice guy and all, but would probably do it on for less.

As for EJ & DC - completly unnecessary (from a proper fan's perspective), at least DC adds some knowledge; EJ is just extreemly annoying (I would prefer it if he wasn't there) and I would expect very very expensive... they should pay for themselves!! I'm sure they get countless side deals on the back of the exposure.

Plenty of cost savings there (could probably save some of the other BB jobs!)

All that said, it is really great that F1 gets the commitment from the Beeb that it currently does, on balance would accept EJ if it means the "newbie's" to the sport accept the BBC spending the cash..


Yes there is a general lack of quality coming from the BBC of late in my opinion. This once great broadcaster is becoming a lowest common denominator purveyor of banality (which is absolutely not its reason for being).

Sport is expensive. Sport is mainstream and quite often in the top 5 things in many people's lives. Any major world-wide broadcaster worth its salt need to carry popular sport. F1 presents the BBC more viewers than almost anything else. Apart form the News and Top Gear, there is nothing else on the BBC for me currently other than F1 (the coverage of which is of an exceptional quality and almost undoubtedly the best in the world).

Who is the BBC asking before it decides how to spend my money? Where are the surveys and opinion polls? Or is the BBC now done with impartiality and serving the Great British Public and instead sees its future as a political whipping post, pandering to mass hysteria and political will?

I am assuming that talks to drop the contract or for the end of this year? Surely dropping out at the end of next year (and paying for the privilege) makes no sense in any dimension other than the one where political hysteria has completely taken over the universe.

All this aside, it is completely shocking that I am forced by law to buy the BBC's products. What an outrageous state of affairs that very few people ever actually raise in the UK. The BBC's programmes are a product/service, like a cheeseburger or a hotel room. There would be uproar if anyone tried to tell us it is against the law not to buy a Big Mac every month!

If I feel like I have no say in what the BBC produce or broadcast, I see no reason why the law should compel me to pay for someone else's idea of what I should and should not watch.

Let them compete with ads like everyone else then! And if they cannot compete and EARN money - well, Let them eat cake!


I like DC and EJ.

JH is useless. Sure he is a nice face and brings it together, but overall he doesn't add much. Regardless of who does it, it's just a filler job.

MB is excellent in the box/anywhere

TK is excellent in the pit lane

EJ/DC add a bit of commentary. Unless DC is toeing the Red Bull line of course... DC is also pretty good in the box.

LM is ok... not really needed but you need someone to do the interviews and she is good at that.

NP (5live) is useless. She does the same thing as LM but worse. LM has knowledge and good questions. NP seems to not do anything.

Full cast and crew for it should be

2 camera/sound (1 to follow LM, the other to follow DC/EJ and MB when he gets there). THe later can walk with them to MB for his race analysis stuff properly.

EJ, DC, MB, LM, DC(crofty), AD.

THat is all. 2 camera/sound, 6 people to present/speak/dance.

How is that 0.5 million a race?

Carlos Del Valle

It's not a matter of quality, but affordability and sustainability. How on Earth can the been pay Bernie and not sell any ads? Has the CCCP won the cold war???

I find Globo TV here in Brazil a quite good example of a compromise, because it is free to air, with ads before and after the race, during the slowdown lap etc. It's way better than using public money to pay Bernie and those Babilonian motorhomes, and way better than the US model (pay cable TV).

Globo TV sells five anual advertising contracts, taday they are:

- Santander (bank)

- TIM (cell phone provider, like Vodafone)

- Renault (yeah, Clio ads)

- beer (Ambev, multinational brewing)

- Petrobras.


They can afford it because we all pay a licence fee of £135 per year. I don't know the figures but F1 programmes much have the highest TV viewing figures on the BBC or there abouts. For the money they are able to generate around 6 hours of TV output x 20 racers per year, plus 3 x practice sessions and the forum after the race as well as race highlights. Just looking at the main TV coverage it works out at less than £1/2 per hour. Less than half that if you add in the practices sessions, forum and highlights. That doesn't sound expensive to me considering the number of viewers.


The majority of the money for the BBC F1 is recouped from the sale of the coverage to other nations (e.g. Australia, etc) who do not provide their own production.

The impact to the good old licence payer is much less than you are calculating.


The F1 coverage is comfortably the most expensive per-hour production the BBC engages in. The worth we as fans place on the coverage is, in BBC commercial terms, irrelevant. Anyone who likes something will always think it is worth it, but you cannot place commercial weight on judgments such as those.


"How on Earth can the been pay Bernie and not sell any ads? Has the CCCP won the cold war???"

I wonder if there's a communist equivalent of Godwin's Law, because you've invoked it in the first reply to the thread. Good work.

I think you don't fully understand how the BBC works. It is funded by a levy on the population - the famous TV licencing fees - and has historically had a truly gargantuan budget. This allows it to do things that no other broadcasting organisation in the world can do, because it doesn't have to chase ratings or advertising revenue.

Carlos E. Del Valle

Hmm, lots fo flak eh... But the Godwin analogy made me chuckle... 😉 Anyway, although I really didn't know about the fee, point taken, it is public money, as the owner of the BBC is "the Crown", who collects the fee, right?

Don't get me wrong, I would gladly pay £135 per year to have not only BBC F1 but the entire BBC, as I re-watch every race on iPlayer just because it is awesome, like you all said.

But if the fee was any kind of panacea, James Allen wouldn't be writing about the risk of losing BBC F1, would he?


Well Said, Lindsay. The Carlos Del Valle post is obviously from an ill- informed point of view. The BBC has, historically, been able to demonstrate a purity of vision and output that other broadcasters simply could not match due to ‘real world’ market forces. I do mean historically though, because lately I think they have lost their way more or less completely (F1 or no F1).

Also, let us not forget that their funding has not been cut, just frozen for a few years. I know this equates to cuts in real terms in line with inflation but it is an important distinction that the BBC likes to gloss over when they are justifying sweeping cuts and feeling sorry for themselves.


Would be really disappointed to see it with adverts during the race, would rather it went to sky, at least that way it's likely to be descent coverage. Or maybe, they could reduce the fees a bit as everything struggles atm.


There is one other way out.

BBC negotiates a deal for the rights resale, then brings that deal to Mr. E. And pays him 5M more for transfer of rights for that deal to happen and whatever the loss is between what they pay for the rights and what they sold it for - probably less since CH4 and 5 know that BBC want to dump it and won't pay full price.

That way BBC minimize their loses, and dump the rights as they wish. But Mr. E. still has to agree. In this market however, he probably wouldn't get more - and this way he ends up with 5M more on the deal, a willing partner (CH4 or 5) to negotiate with for future rights. You speak millions, you've got Mr. E.'s ear.


Amazing that the BBC pays that much to cover F1.

Even more amazing is that BBC would pay to settle to end 1 year early - it makes no sense cost wise. Let the contract run out, or end it now - 2 years early. To pay a settlement with 1 year to go is silly by any measure. Unless that is, BBC Chief is Mr. E's cousin and wants to ensure a nice payout to FOM.

As for adverts - stop complaining. I say this with kindness living in Canada and seeing F1 with ads for decades. No one is going to pay 45M for rights to get no ad return in today's world. Besides, what exactly is F1 except for a big advert on wheels? Why shouldn't TV want a piece - F1 teams aren't paying to TV to expose their sponsors.

Finally, with Red Bull domination bringing back memories of one MS 7xWDC - is there any reason why BBC should be motivated to pay the funds to bring the next decade of German exploits to British viewers? Perhaps they see little value in it, not surprisingly.


Unless Lewis goes to Red Bull. That would attract quite an audience. I agree that it makes no sense to pull out and pay a £50m fee to avoid a £45m bill though the production costs are doubtless more than another 10. I have to say, while the HD coverage and lack of ads are great, the much vaunted multimedia experience the beeb offered hasn't changed my f1 experience. Where's the iPad app with timings/position? The data feeds? The iplayer camera per car? Perhaps Jake's twitter feed is what they meant 😉


Use the official f1 timing app it's free. All the official screens. Used it for 2 years now. In qualifying and the race it's really good to see who is putting in the purple sectors


Another Canadian ... no question that the TV situation in the UK is dramatically different than elsewhere, so its hard for us on this side of the pond to comprehend.

Personally, I'd prefer if I could get the Speed Channel feed for the F1 races instead of the BBC's because, until there is an American driver in F1, their broadcasts are far less biased than the Beeb's (all McLaren all the time)


USA here. Trust me, compared to the BBC coverage the Speed TV coverage blows. It's really horrendous. Exactly as Sebee said, 3 guys in a studio in North Carolina telling you about what you are seeing. I'm an just avid F1 fan and I know far more about F1 than these guys do. I would think that any serious F1 fan (serious enough to be reading this website and commenting in the forums) would find the Speed TV coverage laughable.

Sebee, we here in the US do have options. It's called an Internet connection, a UK proxy, and BBC iPlayer. Even though the iPlayer stream is less than HD quality (but very good) I watch it instead of Speed TV. I sacrifice some picture quality for vastly superior commentary and no commercials.


For a while there I thought I was in paradise because I had the Speed Channel feed and the ITV feed. Let le tell you, Speed feed ain't that good. 3 guys in a studio watching what you see and telling you about it. Plus they seem to have a Schumi love afair in the way they regularly mention what a legend Schumi is, especially when their feed is moved to Fox for the common man.

Without reservations the ITV feed the and BBC feed now are way way better. Any fan here watching Speed feed probably doesn't have he choice of BBC feed.


Exactly, why not have 2 - 3 ad breaks in a 1.5 hour race?

Almost everyone here has said they would rather retain BBC, why not allow them to better fund the broadcast and keep it where we all want it?

I am in New Zealand, we get the same feed as you guys,I for one would rather hear Martin, David and crew WITH ads than not at all!


When it was on itv it was limited to the number of ad breaks. I think it was seven from start to finish.


Gutted if true. That is all I have to say.


Gutted indeed. Please BBC just cut the production costs if need be. Please, please don't make us go back to ad breaks during the race. Surely James you can concur? I vividly remember hearing the frustration in your voice when you were commentating on ITV and had to cut to an ad break so we could all be reminded about a myriad of tat that we neither needed or wanted!


Agreed. I'd not mind a move to Sky, as they have proven with Football, Cricket and even Darts that the sports coverage they offer is second to none. My only concern would be adverts, although they don't have them in football, so you never know. That said the BBC have a great lineup at present, yes people whinged about Legard, but that was small fry compared to the numbers who complained about previous commentators. I guess that's why the BBC only took a very select band of people from the previous coverage.

For me the BBC coverage now is the best F1's ever had. Having EJ and DC means the viewers are able to see people from the sport questioned by people who've got some respect in the sport. It means we're not left with useless questions like 'You didn't have a good day today' when someone has binned it lap one, and that's exactly the kind of stupid drivel we used to get.

Perhaps the BBC need to think about some of:

- increasing their english commentry feed costs to other broadcastors.

- Decrease Wimbeldon costs, we get to see every game and it's OTT

- Ditch MotoGP perhaps? (Yeah I like MotoGP but EuroSport coverage is widely believed to be better)

- Stop showing things like swimming and horse racing, how many viewers do things really attract?

- Get rid of the 1 hour pre-race show. 15 mins prior to the race start, Brundle on the grid, then the race would be fine. Then the after race forum, although interesting, could probably be ditched too. Of course the BBC would have to fill the time with other content, what that would cost (to offset) I don't know.

The fact is that motosport is massively popular in the UK, attendances at F1, MotoGP and BTCC prove that. So whilst it's nice to cover niche' areas like the BBC do on BBC3&4 it needs to remember that it's first obligation should be to the majority of those who pay for it. If F1 is only wanted by a small minority then that's fine, but I get the distinct impression that isn't the case. I can barely name anyone I know in the UK, young, old, male or female who doesn't watch F1 on a regular basis.

Fulveo Ballabeo

Just wondering aloud...

If BBC stays through 2012, that leaves 1 year left on contract. Let's assume rights fee is 45M, and production costs another 10M, for a total of $55M for that final year. If settlement is $50M, why not stick with contract for last year? "Only" costs an incremental $5M, a relatively modest amount in big business. They're out $50M either way. At least they get something for that incremental $5M.


On thing here that I don't see anyone mentioning. BBC coverage is used in numerous English speaking countries. I seriously doubt this coverage is given to them for free. I'm certain these other broadcasters are paying a fee to BBC to get their commentary. How much do they get from this one might wonder? Say if production is 5-10m and fee 45mil. I'm sure these others pay a fee as well for the privilege to show F1 coverage paid directly to FOM but also a production fee to BBC for the packaging with commentary and all. Would be surprised if that didn't pay at least 5-10mill even if it might be traded for shows or production runs that this other broadcaster has the rights for. How much are these deals not worth to the BBC?


It is my understnaidng that all TV stations pay for the FOM coverage and then they can either add their won commentary over the top of that or pay someone else to dot ath for them.

2 things to remember then

1) One, etc... all pay for teh commentary of DC and MB only, not the video and so it is probably something like 1 million a year or something small. And I don't believe this is counted for some reasons towards offsetting costs

2) The pre quai coverage. The bits inbetween Quali segements with JH, DC and EJ, the bit after Quali, the pre race show, any bits during stopages, the post race bit, the forum ARE ALL BBC only.

I've had a chance to see that stuff and found it really great. I would love for One and others to also buy that stuff and have a proper pre and post race/quali show, but these aren't done and so..

The bits that cost the most (i.e. everything with the omntages, crazy clips, scripts, JH etc...) are all BBC only and cost alot, while the bit sold on (DC and MB commentary) is cheap and sold.

By just doing the commetary for each race with a prerecorded bit between the two would be cheap and actually probably make money to offset the FOM costs for teh BBC.

But once you factor in the 3 hours + of extra stuff not sold on you get massive costs.


We have BBC broadcasting in New Zealand but we now have to pay for it through Sky TV NZ as our market is quite small.

When it was free to air, we only got the race but with Sky we get coverage of all race sessions.

It would be a shame if BBC lost it, ITV coverage was quite good from when we had it free to air. Whatever happens, i'd like to see a return of James Allen to the main stage, and Martin to continue to do his gridwalks and we actually be shown the grid walks live here in NZ instead of having to watch them on you tube


Agreed, the BBC feed we get here in NZ is excellent and would be greatly missed, andit would be nice to see the grid walks and pre show. Although the wife already wonders what the appeal is of watching a good 7 hours total coverage per race weekend very second weekend... may as well make it a round 8 hours!

And as far as I can remember it's been on Sky, ie pay TV, for at least 15 years, so you lot in the UK don't really have that much to complain about....


I get your point, but I hope not.

In Australia ONE HD coverage has enough ads! If they cost to ONE to get BBC feed goes up, more ads for Aussie followers.

I think a dual approach would be good. A live free to air with ads, and then a pay per view ads free. So if you are truly diehard fan, you can pay per race to watch without ads. Or certain races.

I know I’d do that. I’d watch some free to air (Monaco, Valencia, Spain, Hungry) and pay to watch all of Spa, Canada

My choice, my dollars


I watch the BBC coverage online, from Norway, via a proxy server I pay for. I am sure there are many other doing the same from other countries. I would gladly pay triple directly to the BBC for the same service. They could probably offset some costs there as well.

Say there is a million people who would pay to watch the excellent bbc coverage but can't or does like me and uses a proxy. I pay 30 pounds a year for my proxy. If I and a million others gave that money to the BBC insted it would help a lot.


I am glad we stopped gettin the brit commentary here in India. There is too much british bias in what they say.


I often choose to watch the BBC coverage a day or so later, rather than watch live coverage with poor commentary and ads.

EJ and DC can get a little too into themselves sometimes, but the BBC really has best content (interviews, practice, etc.).


Quite right. More over if the BBC cut down on the production costs NOW (just Martin Brundle & DC comentating would be fine) they can save the £5m by 2013.

Come to think of it, certain James Allen could be cheaper then my old friend and adversary DC, who doesn't need the money anyway 😉



one time F3 driver


You're a hard man to track down, Martin! DC's only year in F3 was 1991 and the only Martin who raced that year was at the Donington round with Tollbar Racing.

Interestingly, there doesn't appear to have been a last name on the entry list so it's just 'Martin'.



my, you have been digging !

Well that's why it's 'one time', and even that was DNF, cos' the camshaft broke.

Mind, Rubens didn't finish either.

You may find DC, Rubens and lots of other known names (& me at the back) in the Vauxhall Lotus 89/90/91 results...



Grayzee (Australia)

Martin, eh? One time F3 driver?

You wouldn't happen to be a one time F1 driver, too, by any chance.....and have the initials MB? Hmmmmm......


I wish !

Nearest I ever come was few cautious laps in a friends historic F1 car 🙂



Your wondering is not same as the wondering from BBC. They will end it this year or run out the contract - ending year early would be nothing else but a political move, with no benefit to bottom line.

As a holder of the contract, I would be sure that party that breaks contract is on hook for all dues, including legal fees, and damages for seeking new partnership - and even decrease in rights value under contract. And I'm just an F1 fan, not FOM, Mr. E. and his armada of loophole closing lawyers.

BBC can talk about it, but either way they are either going to cut loose now for political reasons or ride out the contract.


I hope this isn't true! I'd be annoyed if my tv license went to fund even more things I dont watch and nothing I want to see except for top gear, and that's not worth the 150 a yea or whatever it is now!


I was just thinking the same. I watch two things on BBC - F1 and Top Gear. Everything else I watch is on Sky One/Atlantic/Living, SciFy, Motors or Eurosport.

Re-runs of QI and Mock teh Week on Dave don't count as watching BBC do they?

The BBC should be commended for their F1 coverage and it would be a real shame if it were to be lost.


My preference is for it to remain on the beeb - all their coverage is great - but if it has to go then I hope we could be given the choice of the normal coverage (with the dreaded adverts) or pay for premium ad-free coverage (with all practice sessions etc).

Going back to limited and ad-interupted coverage after the great job the BBC have done would be a dissapointment.

It's just a shame that due to the way the beeb is funded it couldn't just charge a nominal fee for the current red button content so we could keep our current coverage - even if it means paying a little for the 'extras'.


Im surprised with the depth of feeling on this issue that nobody has started a Facebook campaign entitled keep F1 at the beeb at least then Mr patten and the so called governers would start seeing depth of feeling out in the public arean not just on one of the best sites to do with F1


Gutted if it goes to another channel with advert breaks.


Why don't they just allow the GP to be paused?

For example, a race goes for 1.5 hours. It that time a channel could show 20 minutes of ads.

So make the race go for 1:50 instead. Just 'pause' it during the ad break. Act as if your going and coming right back like a normal TV show.

The thing that gets me though is this: (I watch it with ads on one in australia)

If I see an ad for a product, I think, ok, their paying money, one can only show this because they have the money to, and this is what brings it in, ok, I want F1 I have to sit through the ads that pay for F1. I'll take it.

But if they then show an ad for another show one then I get anoyed because I'm missing a race for a show that one is recieving no money to show. If people want t watch it they can or see adds before or after the race.

That is just anoying.


totally agry, there's so much going on in a GP now you could miss a lot in an advert break.

can't fans help bbc, i'd be happy to give an extra few coins if it meant no adverts


Here in Canada they do a split screen for the adverts - the race continues on the left while the ad runs on the right. You miss the commentary of course while the ads run, but you still see what's going on (provided you have a big enough screen) and get used to it. F1 over here is on at 4am so I tape it and fast forward through the ads, eyes glued to the left have side...

Oliver Neilson

Quite right, the coverage is excellent, but it is not something the BBC should be doing. The BBC´s funding structure allows, or compels them to provide output that the comercial advertising driven market would be unable to. Commercial telly can and will provide perfectly adequate coverage, and the BBC will have an additional 45 million quid to spend on stuff the commercial sector can´t.

Having said that, it will be a shame to see it go, and I hope it stays on free to air TV as Bernie has always indicated.

There is an alternative, I suppose is not out of the question that squillionaire Bernie could just ask for a bit less wedge.


Strictly Come Dancing - public service broadcasting?

Oliver Neilson

I agree with most of the points above, the BBC is too commercial for it´s charter, but perhaps this move is an indication that it is moving in the right direction, and move towards output of a more highbrow, and niche audience, like ´Snog Marry Avoid.`

It has to find a balance between 100% non mass market, and raise the hackles of those who are forced to pay, but never watch, and straying too much into the territory of that which the commercial sector could and does provide. I don´t think it gets that balance right very often.


'The BBC´s funding structure allows, or compels them to provide output that the comercial advertising driven market would be unable to.'

If only that were true! Have you watch BBC1 lately? It's ITV without the ads.


Excellent point. A good-will gesture from Mr. E. to lower the fee or rebate it quietly behind the scenes to keep it on the BBC for a few more years.

It would be wonderful to see this type of generous move - may I say it would be refreshing.

However, this is a business, and Mr. E. doesn't negotiate deals and put ink to paper to allow his generosity to send out a message that contracts aren't loophole free and not up to renegotiation as will. Don't you know his daughter just bought a 56K sq/ft mansion with a forest in the back yard for $85M that is just perfect for her two dogs? Who will pay for that?

Richard Groves

When the BBC also drop stuff like Eastenders + Dr. Who + the lottery shows etc. that would also be done by commercial channels then your argument might hold water.


Bleak news indeed. I really hope that whoever does get it next has the sense that the BBC did and retains the core crew, do not interrupt the race with adverts, saving them for the build up and post race discussion.

I doubt that will happen though.


The sad reality is that there either have to be adverts or the viewer has to pay a subscription fee. Otherwise a commercial entity is making no money and the hole point of their existence is to make money.

It will be sooooo disappointing if F1 leaves the BBC. I can't take adverts, they don't work with F1. F1 has magical moments that happen out of the blue. It's not possible to time adverts. You might as well have 8 15 minute races if your going to do adverts. ...So I guess if you don't have adverts you have to have a subscription. I cannot and will not pay money to Rupert Murdoch though. ......so um....oh cr*p!


Same here, if BBC drops it and none of the free commercial channels take it, then it's bye bye to F1 for me, after thirty odd years of watching it, sadly.


The even sadder reality is that in some countries you get both. Here in Singapore we have to pay for the cable tv, then pay extra for the sports package, then we get the privilege of being interrupted every 8 minutes or so with ads.


Obviously, from my privileged position I don't want to see any loss in coverage, or quality.

The facts are that i'd like to see coverage, but not at any cost. It's be better to have some coverage than none.

If the 'some coverage' is limited it will not help the sponsors, and thereby the sport. It's a lose-lose situation.


BBC please consider this carefully as its not only UK watchers, anyone that gets BBC around the world will be watching the BBC English speaking coverage and this is the best advert for the UK that you can get and I personally will be distraught to loose the BBC coverage.


When F1 left ITV to go to BBC , it was one of the most satisfying moments of my life (call me selfish).


This would be a massive shame and a big blow to the sport if this article actually happens. Perhaps charging viewers a sensible fee per race could keep the float alive. I would certainly not hesitate in paying. The BBC quality and f1 team are beyond brilliant in their individual roles and as presenters and commentators. This crew could be could not be replaced, and would be another big downer in British culture and sports if it were lost. Britain is passionate about motorsport.....let's keep it alive!


We can only hope that Humphrey and Brundle and the brightest members of the production staff get poached to whoever wins the contract.

The beeb coverage is consistently excellent and a standard for all other F1 broadcasters to look up to. Having recently seen RTL's coverage in Germany the quality of the beeb's output shines so much brighter. I can only hope this is just more of Bernie's posturing and that F1 will stay put - where it deserves to be!


Not a chance Humphreys will leave the BBC. He is their golden boy and will probably anchor the Olympics coverage for them in 2012.

Humphreys whilst was a fan pre BBC coverage he was not an F1 nut. This is just another job for Humphreys and it wouldnt surprise me if even if the BBC continue after the Olympics that he would move on to MOTD or a high profile weekend tv show.

One thing to consider and I am sure it's something James would agree with. It takes alot of commitment to follow the F1 circus around the world. Long periods of time spent away from loved ones. It would eventually get to even the most avid F1 fan never mind a career minded guy like Humpreys.


Spot on. He'll be their No 1 on sport after 2012 Olympics


He knows nothing about any sport. Just an escaped children's TV presenter. But the Beeb can act in very strange ways - it's elevated Hammond, for example, far beyond his level of competence.

James, in modern TV (including BBC) does having a pretty face now matter more than knowing about the subject you're supposed to be presenting? Just wondering, as there's hardly an ugly mug under 50-ish anywhere on the Beeb any more..


He has already demonstrated he knows nothing about football. Strictly come dancing in 2013 followed by cash in the attic and snooker presenting.


still think we wouldn't be in a position like this in the first place should proper strategey be still in the frame ie; refueling allowing many ways to run a race. So no matter what is said the 'faster car still stays at the front' right now, which is Red Bull with a champion who divides fans with his 'ability versus car superiority' debate. With different levels of fuels a slower car could win, proven by Shumi in the late '90's adding to the unpredictability of the outcome. Stupid things like Horner stopping Webber from overtaking Vettel, all that 'hold station' nonsense take's all the thrill away from it all. all cars weigh the same at the start now and it's down to tyre wear etc, etc...a lightly fueled car might jump up and control the race? Channel 4 & adverts, here we come then, and maybe at that point Red Bull will consider a switch to another sport? They pulled out of a US car series recently. Too many bad rules & 'fixes' now. It's stopped me going to Silverstone this year and boy was I glad I didn't waste my money with all that messing about!


Well don't follow F1 then!?


I really don't think the ban on refuelling is why the Beeb would like to get out, nor is it even a factor.


I disagree.

1. This does not appear to have anything to do with the quality of the racing, but rather the economic contraction.

2. The racing has been very good this year. In the "sprint between the stops" era, we had many boring races and seasons.


I hope it isn't true. I'm watching from the Netherlands as the BBC coverage is a lot better then the local one which is just a guy watching the same images we have and commenting on what he sees. I would even be willing to pay for it (as I don't pay the licence fee)!


Gotta be honest, I can't see any other station giving the quality of output that the Beeb has over the last few years.

It has been stunning and personally I am gutted that there is even talk of it going to a commercial station.



It does looks as if we are going to have to brace ourselves for a return to Ad-interrupted races, which is going to hurt considering the service we currently enjoy.

To be able to see all the practice sessions as well as qualifying, race and red-button options is a privilege and is going to be hard to improve upon.

It does raise the issue of whether F1 is affordable by terrestrial broadcasters and looking at the testimony today by the Murdoch's and the damage inflicted on News International, I wonder what the options might be.


I do not believe for a moment that commercial TV could provide anything approaching adequate let alone excellent coverage.


Yeah, baby, yeah!!

(Just don't like the Beeb.)


It would be awful if Bbc dropped f1 coverage. The ad free bbc coverage is superb and the coverage of practice and the forum are brilliant for those of us who can't get enough of f1


This wouldn't happen if the sport were run by the teams.


Thats too bad, BBC have done a great job "this" time around. James you are dead on about viewers in the UK having it good compare to people in other countries. I now live in Canada and having already paid extra for TSN (one of the sports channel on cable); we have ads, and only the world feed from BBC.


Its time Ecclestone realised that the "sport" of F1 cannot be immune to the global credit crunch.

By all means if he must insist on the inflated sums of money from tv rights/circuit owners etc, he should get the rules changed so that the cars are built much more like sandwich boards so they can display bigger sponsor logos.

They could drive slower so as to get more tv time and could save some fuel into the bargain, thus saving the planet.


Your point is very valid - about the credit crunch. But would you allow me to flip it around on you please....

With Murdoch now up to his neck in bad PR, and Sky deal delayed (don't fool yourself into thinking it won't happen later), the credit crunch will likely drive the teams into another deal with Mr. E. As usual with his golden touch and perfect timing, the Euro debt mess will drive all the teams toward stable reliable income that only Mr. E. can deliver in these testing times. And for that reason all the rumblings of new series, team buyout, etc. etc. falling off the table like an orange leaf from a tree in October.

As for TV rights, don't know if you noticed but sport properties are high value stuff. Because you always watch it live, you don't PVR it, skip the commercials, etc. For this reason the BBC models is not sustainable - because sports has to be delivered with ads - period.


This would be terrible for the sport, no one can possibly come anywhere near to the coverage we currently get. The viewing figures are generally about 5 million which I think in today's tv world is very good. I for one would happily pay £1 per race to keep the current coverage, if 3 million agreed to this then that would be £60 million over the season covering all costs. Surely an F1 licence fee subsidy is they way to keep it on the BBC.


This was always bound to happen when you combine a public service broadcaster, funded by licence fee, with a commercial contracting system. In truth the BBC is just lucky that F1 prefer free to air TV otherwise this would have been on Sky a long time ago. Therefore, I wonder if a German TV model is a future possibility: in Germany F1 is on both free to air TV (RTL) and subscription TV (Sky Deutschland) but only Sky Deutschland cover the whole weekend including practice.


Practice is covered on free to air TV. Sport1 broadcasts P1 & P2, RTL shows extented highlights of P3. There is no need to suscribe sky Deutschland as it is far too expansive (~£30 per month).

Consequently their F1 coverage (which is high-quality) is not very profitable. They signed the current contract in December 2010 (4 months before the start of the new season when the old one was running out) and the new running time is unknown. They may drop F1 after this season.


Thanks for your reply Ben. Although I have lived in Germany for 6 years (until very recently) I admit that I was not aware of this. Sky Deutschland does not cost 30GBP though as I only paid 19.99€ for a basic sport package (which included English Premier League football and F1). I don't know what your source of info is re: them possibly dropping the coverage - perhaps you would like to say? They certainly give no indication of this and their coverage is, as you say, very high quality and, unlike the BBC, not relegated to online or the red button for practice. RTL show ads during racing whereas Sky do not as another example. Were I still in Germany I would choose the Sky coverage every time.


Wow, I pay about 60 Pounds per month for DSTV, which is the South African equivalent of Sky, I am guessing, to be able to watch the F1 in HD on Supersport. And yes, I have to take the premium all inclusive package to be able to get the channel that shows F1. And it shows the BBC feed with local S.A. commentators before and after the race with MB and DC commentary during the race. The license rights that Supersport alone pays to BBC for their coverage should cover quite a substantial amount of the cost to BBC. IMHO.

We can also get the RTL channel, which we also have to pay for and then get to watch German ads in between the F1 race. That is the biggest insult, paying for a channel that still shows ads. A Lot.

Like James said, viewers in the UK have it very good, and if things change they should be glad that they are able to still enjoy what they have while they have it.

Ok, rambling a bit... Sorry. 🙂


If you want the basic sport package you have also to pay for "Sky Welt Extra" (movies etc.). Otherwise you get nothing. They started this price system after their rebranding.

I checked the prices on their website: "Sky Welt Extra" + "sport package" = 33,90€ per month (~£30). HD does cost further 10€...

F1 was really for the drop last year until this last minute agreement with the FOM. It is quite strange that they do not reveal how long running time of the contract is. Rumours are that they signed a one year contract with an option for further years if RTL can not afford F1 anymore. However, RTL signed a new contract recently.


UK fans shouldn't just accept that things will get worse. How irresponsible of you to suggest such a bad attitude! We should stand up for the sport we love, and not let it disappear to commercial poverty, then obscurity on a money-grabbing Sky channel (like the cricket did). F1 is a sport the british are actually world leaders in, providing massive income and employmen for the country, and deserves to be pride of place on our premier channel.


I read this post with great interest. I was not happy when SKY bought the rights, but the coverage the BBC has is still good and although I didn't agree with the decision at the time I now can see it does actually offer good value for money for the license payer.

As nice as it would be to have all our sports on free to air channels the reality is in 2012 that's just not going to happen.


F1 is going to shaft the fans again. This is the worst possible news sports wise for me. The BBC with the free practice live and the forum is the best sports coverage on tv. The itv coverage was soo amateurish compared to it now we can see how good it can be. Disappointed.


If it did go to an advert supported channel

then I suggest they do what they did in Spain when I was their last year. They played the adverts and racing side by side in split screen when it was advert time so you didn't miss a trick. I would miss the BBC coverage though as I think they do a great job with my money


Yes, I thought that way was excellent when the ads came on when I was on holiday!

Tom (Londoner)

I'd pay 10 pounds a race to continue to get the coverage on iPlayer. The BBC would only need a 250,000 people like me and they would break even.

Off subject has anyone noticed the test that the FIA have been doing on fighter jet canopies? Reminds me of the Red Bull X2010, which I think is a nice looking car!


"Only" 250,000!


here here as regards the iPlayer idea. I'd be willing to pay a fee to watch it on the iPlayer... and so would millions of people around the world.... if they just unlocked it to fans outside of the U.K. The amount of people that look for the race streaming live online is ridiculous. Even if FIA did it and charged i'd still be interested. But as regards the BBC and the iPlayer, they have missed the boat over the last couple of years. They could have opened the F1 feed live on it, worldwide, and charged, and people would have happily paid. I for sure would. Other than Top Gear and MotoGP there is nothing else on TV that interests me. I'm an Irish fan, and have been for 14 years. The british feed was always my main choice. Honestly... live on the iPlayer for the fans around the world would have generated a considerable amount of income for the Beeb.


If they opened this up to other countries they would get that "250,000" pretty quickly.

$15AUD/Race for example i would happily pay to get live coverage, and not have to listen to the 3 Aussie jokers that give there "expert" comments to us fans down here - and to not have 5 minute commercial breaks every few laps. We actually missed the Button pit stop failure that gave Mark 3rd place at silverstone

I know of people that are paying $10-15AUD a month for 12 months to get a UK VPN based solution to get iPlayer


I know Mark! The guys on. One HD are rubbish. How bad was the opening lap of the Valencia race when they couldn't cut to the BBC feed and they had to commentate. It was so cringeworthy!!


The BBC do not own the rights to broadcast the world feed world wide (or host recordings for world wide access). The fees discussed by James are for the UK rights only.


We have a campaign to try and Save the BBC coverage of F1 and need all F1 fans to join. Please follow if you would like to have your say,




British people are funny.

One person says s/he hopes it stays on free-to-air TV, while another poster says paying 150/year would be too much if all s/he could watch is Top Gear. If you're paying a fee/taxes to support the BBC, the channel isn't free, now is it?

Then a lot of you complain about "dreaded adverts" during the race (if the BBC loses coverage). How dreadful will adverts be if the race isn't shown in your country?


The license fee is compulsary. So if a person had Sky TV but didnt watch or use any BBC channel or service, they still have to pay a license fee even then.

I guess the BBC is considered free to air it is accessible to 99.99% of TV boxsets in the United Kingdom and is already catered for by the license fee - the thing that allows people to watch TV. Sky, Virgin or whichever other premium service is an expense on top of this and not considered free to air.


I think you missed my point James; How can you (other posters, not specifically you) say Formula 1 is now on free-to-air tv when everyone is forced to pay for the BBC?

Andy a few posts down has the right attitude - if you're paying for something, demand that they carry what you want to watch.


It isn't 'free' per se, but it is mandatory and a criminal offence to own a TV receiving broadcasting signals and not pay the 150 quid.


Exactly, it isn't free, despite Bernie saying it will stay on free-to-air tv.


Well Nigel then maybe they should drop ALL sport rather than favouring some fans over others. I used to believe in the licence fee, but given the paucity of entertainment coming from the BBC these days, With the loss of F1 we would be down pretty much to just Top Gear, so remind me, what would I be paying for? - There is more to sport than ball games.


its 'free' in the sense that if you have a TV, you have access to it. Its not an optional service.

I'd be as unpleased as anyone else should F1 not continue on the BBC, but it also has to be understood that the BBC has a limited budget with the frozen license fees and has a mandate to provide quite a variety of programs.


Why are we funny? Because we don't speak with a uniformity of voice? Is only one opinion allowed in your country?


James, we would love you to come back to commentary box...

Do you think you can/try strike a deal with whoever is gonna take the production.

I would say "Go for it!!"


If free to air is so important, and I believe it is, then FOTA should actually do something tangible by organising a 'sponsored by' or 'in association with...' approach.

The BBC has stepped up the game and made my license fee seem worthwhile especially with the Red Button.

Unfortunately, just like many public sector areas, quality of service is never a criteria that gets comes into the equation. Fat pensions, cushy jobs, expenses, layer upon layer of waste etc


It feels like being told the sun will never shine again, much like getting off a plane in the UK. There is precious little else to watch on the goggle box anyway and F1 is a few hours of uninterrupted pleasure twice a month.

Surely we must all take a stand? If the listeners of 6 Music can save their station then surely the legions of F1 fans can save the BBC coverage!


Absolutely devastated if this is true!! Finally, we get excellent coverage and now this!! I've only just got over James Allen not commentating!!!


At some point you'd think Bernie might get bit in the butt.

Any news on the[mod] situation in Germany?


F1 belongs on the BBC! Drop some football schedule and invest OUR license fee where it counts. KEEP MURDOCH'S [mod] HANDS OFF F1!


I'm sure the BBC could probably slim down their F1 coverage to make it more cost effective. Perhaps removing, or reducing the frequency of the fan forum would save money. Also, dropping 5live might be an option. It pains me to say it, as listening to Crofty, Anthony, Maurice et al for the practice sessions is both informative and entertaining. But if I remember rightly, the LG F1 survey a year or two ago showed that less than 2-3% accessed F1 via the radio.

It is a great shame, because the BBC has done F1 justice with the excellence and depth of it's coverage. I dont think anybody else could do a finer job.


They should not reduce the fan forum. It can't cost much and it adds a lot to my viewing experience, as does the red button coverage of practice.

Why don't they run only one commentary team for all the sessions. It seems crazy to have two teams essentially saying the same thing on two (or three) platforms.


f1 moving off the bbc onto a commercial channel would be a total disaster as commercial breaks in the new style f1 do not work.

i was in the us during the early part of the season visiting an ill family member & was watching the races on speed channel. with the increase in overtaking, pit stops & other action you ended up missing a ton during the breaks which actually made the race a lot more difficult to follow.

watching the race races later on from the bbc's uninterupted coverage made the race a lot easier to follow as you didn't miss anything.

i guess the other negative about other terrestrial broadcaster would be there lack of red button interactive channels.

bbc use the red button very well to show practice & the onboard feed & driver tracker as well as the post race forum.

without the red button coverage on itv & channel 4 or 5 its likely the practice coverage could be only shown online as it was with itv back in 2008 & that is far from ideal for a couple of reasons.

also losing the onboard feed would be a disaster as its become quite an important addition to the coverage, especially if your able to watch it next to the main tv coverage on a 2nd tv. and same is true with the driver tracker, especially during pit stops.

if f1 moves away from the bcc i can see myself simply not watching f1 any longer if the coverage is substatially worse.


Well the rest of the world has to watch F1 with commercial breaks.


Here in South Africa we get uninterrupted ad-free (live) practice, qualifying and race.

Then again, we also get to watch live coverage of pretty much every single English Premier league fixture...even the rubbish ones like Stoke vs Wigan.

Maybe our rates are lower because we are an African country - but if we can do it surely other countries can manage it too?


Sorry to contradict you James, but not all the rest of the world watches F1 with advert breaks. In NZ we get all the free practice sessions, qualifying and the race uninterrupted and with the BBC commentary. However, this luxury does come with a price tag, F1 is only available on the country's only pay TV station.


Well where i live (Hong Kong) we get coverage via a Cable Subscription yet they still show the ads! Can you shed some light on why that's the case?


And with out the Red Button!


I wonder if anyone else would agree to this idea - assuming F1 ends up on a commercial channel: show the race start live, then 'freeze' the action for the first commercial break, then pick up where they left off, i.e. recorded, running 4 minutes behind real-time. Then the same for all subsequent ad breaks. OK, it means the race will no longer be truly 'live', and will finish on TV 30-40 minutes or so later than in real time, but at least we won't miss stuff that happens during ad breaks...


THANK YOU JAMES!!!!! The Parochial view expressed here needs to be straightened out. "We" the rest of the World- have to sit through adverts to see our little glimpse of the races. "We" have been doing so for decades. "We" somehow through collective will or spite have lived through the experience and I suggest to those on "That Island" that you'll live through it as well. Might even toughen the lot you up a bit and force you to take stock of how important Formula One is to "We" in the rest of the world.

Regards All...Chino


The point here Chino - that you seem unable to grasp is we in the UK have to pay the BBC the sum of £130 before we sit and watch ANYTHING on ANY channel (BBC or not). It is a Criminal Offence not to have a Licence for using Tv receiving equipment here in the UK. The charge applies to reception of commercial stations as well, so we have already paid, and when watching the commercial channels we are in effect paying twice.

The BBC lavishes a fortune of the money it demands from us on "ball games", time they realised there is more to sport than balls.


I too would rather have the opportunity to pay per view on the Beeb rather than suffer the type of service we used to get on ITV! It's the only sport I follow religiously and the Beeb have set a benchmark few could meet. I understand Bernie thinks of the bottom line but if it lost half it's audience on a commercial channel what would be the point!?


Em, instead of getting worried here, why not contact the BBC?


This is the worst news any f1 fan could hear. The BBC coverage is well beyond anything we got from ITV. F1 needs to be watched intently without commercial breaks and if the BBC have to pay 50 mill to get out of a contract that will save them at most 50 mill over two years...a drop in the ocean really and I wonder how much other investment they have made in terms of staff, infrastructure etc ... False economy if u ask me!


There is certainly an anti F1 clique at the BBC, because the BBC's own report into its sports rights revealed that F1 was it's most cost effective sport.

F1 Cost per Viewer Hour = Hit

F1 Cost per Viewer = Hit

F1 Actual Reach 54% = Hit

F1 Actual Live Rating = Hit

Other sports in the report:

Euro 2008 Cost per Viewer Hour = Miss

Euro 2008 Actual Reach 35.2% = N/A

Olympics 2008 Cost per Viewer Hour = Miss

Olympics 2008 Actual Reach 42% = Miss

Olympics 2008 live Rating = Miss

Open Golf 2009 Cost per Viewer Hour = Miss

Open Golf 2009 live Rating = Miss

Snooker 2009 Cost per Viewer Hour = Miss

Snooker 2009 live Rating = Miss


Do you have a link to that report?

All the items you list are merely targets to be hit - but hitting the target doesn't make the F1 coverage the "most cost-effective sport". We need more details to determine that...


They are not targets to be hit, they are results.

F1 is the most cost effective sport (along with Wimbledon tennis), because the cost per hour is less than most other BBC sports, the cost per viewer is less than most other BBC sports, and the reach is greater etc, etc.

Those are the results of the findings.

The full report in pdf is here ... Or should be:



People need to open their eyes and stop looking at the bottom line

Given that F1 gives something like 10 hours of coverage each weekend the cost isn't as horrendous as it first seems.

F1 has met all targets, the only sport to do this apart from Wimbledon. Football, Snooker, Rugby, Golf have all failed to do this. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/assets/files/pdf/review_report_research/vfm/sports_rights.pdf

Granted this is for the 2009 season, but I don't think viewing figures have dropped since then, so one presumes it is still doing well.

If the BBC do dump F1 I suspect it will be to pay for their new xfactor rival show that they are paying £22m for, thats just for the rights, so by the time they've paid some "celebrities" to host it, production etc its going to be expensive. Then put in to context that the show will probably air for an hour or two a week for two or three months its suddenly looks very expensive, all so some chavs can sing on tv.

Not impressed already!



Quite right, and in fact viewing figures went up in 2010, and have risen substantially in 2011, so if the report was commissioned now F1 would look even more attractive.

Besides that the demographics show that 40% of F1 viewers are female, a demographic that is largely absent from many of the BBC's sporting output, yet another box F1 ticks that many other BBC sports fail to do.


Why not just make BBC4 a sports and Arts channel and merge Cbeebies and BBC Parliament? Problem solved.


You mention a very large production budget, James.

Much as I enjoy the 'build-up' before the race and quali and the forum afterwrds, I'd prefer to see the budget diminished in these areas than lose the uninterrupted quali and race themselves.

It would be a very sad day for excellent sports coverage of an increasingly popular sport if the BBC were to dump it.

I hope you get a an enormous response to this piece of news and can pass it on to the relevant powers.

Perhaps here's the place to start the campaign to save BBC F1 coverage.


I agree with all the build up.

I remember watching the pre race Monaco package they put together and wondering how much money they spent on making it given how little they used it.

They could for the fly away races have Jake and co in the studio at the BBC. When I lived in Australia and New Zealand they have a presenters in the studio with ITV commentary team. Made no difference my enjoyment of the show.



The pleasure of Monaco, as seen on the BBC last race, has very little to do with the average punter. Personally I'd have appreciated info. on how to avoid paying £18 for two beers rather than watchiing the boys dress up in their black tie ensembles and wafting around the usual expensive haunts.

Plus, the harbour is indeed beautiful and picturesque, but the real thrill of Monaco GP is the proximity to the cars on the track.

It might cost the BBC rather less if they concentrated on what the real F1 fan is interestd in and likely to experience if they come to a race.


Just when things had never been better for F1 viewing something like this goes and rears its ugly head.

If this is more than rumour then this is a devestating blow for the Sport. There is NO better sports coverage than what the BBC put together.


We are used to commericials in the States, but to go from great BBC coverage to commercials would stink for sure


I love the BBC coverage and everything about it. It's superb and pretty much perfect. People who 'moan' about it should really get a grip. We've never had it so good.

But that's not what I want to talk about. In response to the post above me linking to James Allen's article, I can't be the only one who is getting fed up and sick of the constant speculation of the future of Formula One on the BBC.

I feel the BBC would be MAD to get rid of the coverage. It's respected throughout the country and the envy of the World and, as proven in the two and half years the BBC have had the rights, a ratings winner. There are light entertainment programmes, drama's, comedies that would kill to get some of ratings Formula One has had in recent months/years. So with all of this and more being taken into consideration, why get rid?

Ok, so it costs, and the BBC is a special case in how it's funded and blah blah blah, but in terms of pure Television speak and entertainment, it would be crazy to let it go so flippantly.

Just because the critics of the BBC such as the Daily Fail might not like how much Formula One costs the (as they frequently remind us) state, license paid broadcaster, doesn't mean the BBC should roll over and have it's tummy tickled and give in. And that's not just about Formula One, this comes under many other things as well. I want a BBC that is strong and tough, prepared to fight and stand up for itself. Not flap around on deck like a Fish out of Water.

As someone who is, an actor, writer and entertainer by trade (although mixed with a bit of racing driver ;)...), I have a great deal of affection, admiration and I'll say it, love for the BBC and I'm very proud of it as an organisation and it upsets me to see it getting beaten up practically all the time.

To put it simply, if Formula One is leaving the BBC, I and I'm sure a great deal of Formula One and sports fans in Great Britain will be upset by it, but if it is going, then let's just hurry up and have it announced because I, for one, am fed up and sick of seeing the constant speculation.


So if the Beeb drop F1 early then everybody - viewers, sponsors and participants - will get an inferior deal while Bernie effectively rakes in two sets of payments from British broadcasters for a year or two. Recession-proof doesn't come close to FOM's immunity to global economics.


Would be a surprising move if it's just for cosmetic purposes. The main anti-BBC paper the Daily Mail haven't really been against F1.

Ironic timing considering the BBC is only in this situation due the government kowtowing to NewsCorp.


The issue for F1 must surely be that moving to C4 or C5 ultimately leads to a smaller audience, as sports like rallying have found, as they are (compared to BBC1) niche and far less prestigious channels. This will provide less exposure for sponsors plus less chance for the sport to attract casual or new viewers.

The likelihood is also that coverage would be far more "low-rent" than at the moment. What F1 bosses don't appear to "get" is that it is in F1's best interests to remain on BBC1 as it has provided fantastic coverage and web offerings; offering a future deal for 2013 on with a lower price tag in order to retain the BBC should be F1's priority rather than casting about lower order channels in a race to the bottom a la WRC resulting in ever diminishing visibility and viewing figures...


Following this story with a lot of interest. As an F1 fan for many years now I know the BBC coverage is the best we've ever had and the amount of hours devoted to the sport is incredible.

Was wondering though, about the fact that many other countries get to listen to the BBC commentary, do they pay the corporation for this right? If so, the bbc must be able to claw back some of their costs involved?

I think F1 as a sport should try and keep the BBC coverage, it gets many hours of BBC1 time and surely to the sponsors and teams that is great value for money. Especially when its an evening race and it gets a prime time slot on BBC1, broadcasting to millions of viewers, other sports can only dream of those figures! It will never achieve that on C4 or C5, no disrespect meant, but it won't.


Very sad news. James sums it up "This clearly cannot continue. So viewers should enjoy it while it lasts."

I watched the 2007 Brazil race not long ago & the ITV coverage missed Hamilton gearbox issues which lost him the title. Back then, F1 races were dull with very little overtaking & fewer pit stops.

With all the action going on right now, the ad cuts will make watching a race an awful experience. I will probably move to AbuDhabi Sport 2 coverage once the Beeb stint is over.

I don't the BBC will loose but F1 certainly will. If I were FOTA & Bernie, I'll push for lower fees as long as the Beeb keeps the race given the worldwide aura of its coverage.

P.S : I'm writing from Tunisia & watch internet streams of BBC

Michael Prestia

Trying being a huge fan in Canada and watching the coverage we get on TSN. Coverage starts 5 minutes before teh red lights go out so we get no pre-show or pit lane interviews! Once the race is over we get to watch the podium celebration and maybe 50% of the question session before the coverage switches over to SportsCentre and yesterday's baseball highlights. Not only that... SPEED channel is in black out effect! So when a commercial is in progress we get the watch the race in a tiny box. There is always a commercial when the cars are ready to pit!


Mr. E: this is a classic case of biting the hand that indirectly feeds you. The quality of the BBC coverage has elevated the sports viewing figures globally. Sponsors in F1 must appreciate that, and probably will require it to stay in the sport. Isn't that what the sport needs? I can't believe anyway that you actually charge the Beeb to promote your business. It's mind-bogglingly greedy.


In Australia we get adverts and the stupid thing is they always come at the most rediculous times. Even qualifying has adds in it. Does it ruin it??? YES it does!!!! If you dont get ads on the BBC now make the most of it as I can promise you if you start getting them it definately does ruin it.

Adrian Newey Jnr

Worse still are the talking heads employed by OneHD.


It's only when you move abroad that you really appreciate what an amazing institution the BBC is.

Here in Australia, yes, the coverage is pretty dire (excluding contributions from James of course!). They only show qualifying on a digital station and the website.

Given the current qualifying format was designed specifically to suit TV companies, it's crazy that Channel 10 still feel the need to go to a break during the last part of Q1.

The most farcical part of the watching online is that when the TV goes for an ad break, the coverage stops and you're not given ads, but presented with a screen saying "we'll be back soon".

As like others, a UK proxy lets me catch up on the BBC stuff but isn't fast enough for me to watch live.


Got to agree with PeteM here, while the coverage in Australia is on free to air and in HD, the ads ruin the race. They pick the oddest moments to go to ads and you ALWAYS miss something important (maybe not in Valencia 😉

Also we don't get any of the online coverage that the BBC provide to the UK audince and they don't even show a highlights package later in the week.


How much will it cost F1 in lost sponsorship revenue per 100,000 viewers lost?


Well from a totally selfish point of view I wouldn't mind at all if the coverage moved to a channel with advertising. Here in Canada we get the BBC commentary feed and while it's good the ITV feed worked better since TSN could sync up their breaks. Now TSN do a small picture alongside the adverts with the sound from the adverts. It's too small to really tell what's going on. With no breaks on the BBC commentary you don't get any recap on what you've missed. Also having a station dictate when the break are who know a good time for them would really help. TSN haven't a clue; it's almost like they wait for some action and deliberately go to a break. For all the grumbles about ITV, towards the end they did start getting the hang of it.


fota & fom/bernie would be wise to try & work out a deal with the bbc to keep the coverage there.

the bbc f1 coverage is the best we have ever had on free-tv, the bbc f1 coverage is massively popular amongst f1 fans in the uk and offers us so much more which other broadcasters would struggle to as far as the extras and depth/quality of the coverage go.

if the f1 coverage moves to one of the other fta channels (itv/channel 4 or channel 5) and the quality of the coverage takes a drop then it will only harm f1 as it could potentially turn viewers off.

bbc dropping the f1 coverage would be a disaster especially if it went to a paytv channel or a channel which had ad-breaks or could not rise to the level/quality of coverage which the bbc have.


It always annoys me as one of the license paying public, that the BBC always finds money to put together massive funding for minority programming (as in that without much of a following rather than me meaning any racial or other type of demographic) yet targets sport as an unreasonably expensive offering.

There is no sense of thought from BBC execs that paying 250-750k for newsreading staff is unreasonable, or cutting funding for eastenders or any other soap operas we seem to fund would be sensible.

In the BBC we have a great example of the issues facing a lot of public sector bodies. An absolute unwillingness to accept change to pay and conditions at the expense of the actual end product being diminished or removed.

Ultimately F1 will leave the BBC as the execs dont see it fitting in with their polically motivated agenda. But I bet they wouldnt cut out any of their low viewing channels that provide the diversity they so often harp on about.

Bernie as always has the financial interests of CVC and himself at heart. I don't know why we are surprised to be honest.

I'm all for BBC as a public provider of services its viewers/listeners want (i.e suitable demand), but that very rarely seems to be borne out in fact.



In an F1 context is 55 million pounds actually a lot of money? What's the ad revenue from the English speaking market who sees the BBC coverage worth? How many million people are watching versus how many might watch it if it's on a subscription service?

Presumably you could make a business case for giving the coverage to the BBC for free or at reduced cost, but it all depends on predictions about how the viewer numbers will change as the broadcaster changes.

If it goes to subscription then the advert revenue the teams gets goes down. At that point the whole business model of Formula 1 has to change and the teams have to have much more power and a larger cut of the non ad revenue or the whole thing won't work for them. ....That's right isn't it?


It's one of the two or three most expensive contracts. I think Germany is still the most expensive. BBC's production team looks to me similar in size to German channel's (RTL) which is the largest in F1


Having only discovered F1 a few years ago during the last race of Lewis Hamilton's winning season, I've never had to endure adverts during races. I think the BBC coverage is outstanding and F1 now regularly takes up most of my weekend. I also think the idea of side-by-side racing and advertising would be a wise idea should adverts have to come into play.

I have to echo the sentiments of many on here and say that losing F1 to a commercial channel would be a great shame. I feel the BBC covers the season in an excellent way - yet in response to the idea of paying a small fee per race, isn't that what the license fee is for anyway? Perhaps the BBC could get rid of several repeated games/quiz shows before removing new, live sports coverage.


I watch the BBC for two shows only, F1 & Top Gear. I was happy paying my licence fee for F1 alone but if they get rid of that i might as well get rid of the tv and save paying another penny to the Beeb. Public Interest Broadcasting? My As*e!


We are approaching the nadir of F1 - races held in places nobody cares about for exorbitant amounts of money, with the FIA micro-managing every aspect of the "show", changing regulations on a race-by-race basis, and people like Ecclestone and Todt driving a once thriving sport into the ground with greed and ineptitude. If the BBC bails out, we should probably thank them for not making us watch as once-proud F1 slides into IndyCar land.


we may not care about the location but 4m people get up early on a Sunday to watch the flyaway races...


If the BBC do lose it and it goes to Channel 4 or 5. Don't fret, if you are watching on a freeview, freesat, virgin, sky pvr, just start watching the race 15 mins late, and forward through most if not all the advrts! Voila.


There's a slight problem with your idea. 🙂

What happens if there are 7 advert breaks in the race and during each advert break there is an overtake for the lead of the race? You can rewind and fast forward all you want on your DVR/TIVO/[insert TV recording device name here], but you aint going to find those 7 overtakes.


Aye, good point 😉 A bit like the ITV coverage that went to a break when Schumi and Alonso were battling those last laps at Imola.


p.s to clarify I meant pause your pvr at the beginning of the show....then forward through ad breaks


It would be a terrible loss to F1 if the beeb pulled out as their before and after talk is the only thing left worth watching as the racing is so boring. Jake and David make a real good team as do Martin and David in commentary. Get rid of EJ he must be costing a pretty penny.


Que sera, sera.


Is FP1 and FP2 on the Red Button this week? The page on the BBC site that lists TV times doesn't show them, first time this year 🙁

F1 should be a Crown Jewel of British Sport (a term which has a specific meaning) given the number of people employed by the sport in this country who all pay a TV license, if for no other more subjective reason.


I want F1 to remain on the BBC, what can I do?

There are several steps you can take to let the BBC know that you feel F1 coverage should remain on the BBC.

At this stage, we are responding to rumours.  However, it is important to be prepared for these rumours to become reality.  The BBC is still considering the future of F1, but by starting the campaign now we can achieve the best outcome.

Step 1: Sign the petition

The easiest way to show your support for the BBC F1 coverage is to visit http://www.formula1onbbc.com/ and sign the official petition.  Once the BBC makes an official announcement about the future of its F1 coverage, the petition can be presented to them.

Step 2: Contact the BBC.

The BBC trust is the governing body for the BBC.  They have a duty to listen to and act on the opinions of audiences.  If you have an opinion on the BBC programming matters, you can contact the trust and they have a duty to consider your point of view.  Several methods of contact are available:

email: trust.enquiries@bbc.co.uk

telephone: Call the information line on 03700 103 100

write to them:

BBC Trust Unit

180 Great Portland Street





I've e-mailed and posted this info to my facebook page. Maybe we can all do the same.


James why would you say "this clearly can't continue"?? Of course it can! The BBC is in a privileged position of being partially funded by the licence fee. The current favourite within the broadcast industry may well be Channel 4, but people tend to forget (or ignore) that Channel 4 is also a British Public Service, state owned broadcaster and is funded by government public funds and advertising revenue. In 2007, the government gave Ch4 £14M (over a 6 year period, funded by the licence fee), so the issue is not as clear cut as it would at first appear.

The BBC gets huge viewing figures for their F1 coverage, so much so that they were one of the few broadcasters that remained on the air during the downpour in Montreal, although that could have been a contractual necessity. British viewers are petrol heads. Top Gear makes the BBC millions (if not billions) in worldwide sales.

If the BBC want to reduce their budget, they should dump David Coultard, who is still on the Red Bull payroll, reduce the red button coverage and cut back radio coverage and a separate commentary team (even if they are often better than the tv commentary team). I for one do not watch football, cricket or golf and as a licence payer, I want to see F1 on the BBC.

Bernie likes to put the cat amongst the pigeons on almost any issue. The BBC are blaming everything they can think of on policy changes and budget cuts. Well, here in the real world... the making of broadcast programmes has had to be cut back and pays less than it used to, we have already seen what happens when programmes like Torchwood get farmed out to the US in the nam of "cost effectiveness". BBC should stop wasting the licence fee on overpaid (so called) celebrities and fostering "nationalism" by moving the majority of it's operation to Salford. The BBC belongs in London, and F1 belongs on the BBC.


Please remember, F1 does not operate in it's own little bubble. OK, so what if you don't watch football or cricket. So what if you you aren't interested watch celebrities and soapies. Millions of other people do and most of these shows rake in the millions for the BBC. If it is making money, why axe it? Top Gear has nothing to do with F1.

If only F1 brought in the dough for the BBC, I am sure there would be no talk of changing broadcasters. But, the reality if that F1 is losing money for the BBC. Hence it needs to be axed or monetising strategies need to be introduced. It's makes perfect BUSINESS sense!

And yes, F1 is a business. It costs at least 40 million to run an F1 team, more for the larger teams. It costs broadcasters millions for licenses. Where is the money going to come from? Certainly not from the screaming viewers who seem to want something for nothing.


Your point is valid that F1 is obviously losing money for the BBC, but it's unfair to say...

"so what if you don’t watch football or cricket. So what if you you aren’t interested watch celebrities and soapies. Millions of other people do"

...these people pay the same amount for a TV license as others, not by choice, but because they have to. So is it fair that some people should pay for a license and yet get little or no value out of it, whilst others do? Or should the BBC look at some other ways to make cuts so they can save a sport that attracts massive viewing figures? I also include F1 in the cost cutting, I'm sure they can find ways to save money without losing the rights.


Funny....some fans are very quick to criticise Hamilton for his 'sense of entitlement' and yet they have a similar sense of entitlement about being able to watch F1 for free with no adverts and all the practice sessions.


James, it's not about entitlement, or counting ourselves lucky because we've had a couple of years with no ads. Why should we resign ourselves to sub-standard coverage just because other countries do?

Surely other countries should be pushing for better coverage, not us lowering our standards and expectations to create parity.

Technology is improving, the very nature of media and how we interact with it is changing and broadcasters must cater for this.


We do pay a licence fee.

To be honest, if it is a question of going to channel 5 or going to SKY and paying extra for similar coverage to what we have at the moment, I know what I would do.

I would sign up to the extra cost. F1 is the most important television event I watch. Even more that Top Gear, and that is saying something.


I don't live in England, so maybe I don't understand, but if you have a TV in England you pay the TV licence fee, yes? How can anyone in England watch F1 "for free" when they pay a licence fee?


For free! What an idiotic statement.

My share of the license fee funds what I want to watch as well as others, somebody else's funds theirs as well as mine, fair enough. Mine is F1 among other things, theirs maybe Eastenders, whatever.

Do I get a choice... NO.

When my viewing pleasure is removed will my license fee be reduced by a few quid NOO.

I stopped paying for Sky sports because I never got time to watch matches..... Pity I can't get a discount in the license fee for not watching ANY sports on the BBC if they drop F1.


Actually James you do need a license if you watch any programme live - you do not neeed one if you only watch it on catch up services, but then you may have heard the result



Live streamed on the BBC website?


On the BBC Website it says to watch programmes on iPlayer you have to have a TV Licence....


"If you watch the race online in the UK you do not have to pay a licence fee."

That's not entirely true. If you are watching a live event online then you need to have a TV license.


You're not correct here James:


"Everyone in the UK who watches or records TV as it is broadcast needs to be covered by a TV licence. This includes TV on computers, mobile phones, DVD/video recorders and other devices."

This is why BBC is sticking their iPlayer everywhere so your device becomes "TV capable".


How enforceable is that?


If you watch the race online in the UK you do not have to pay a licence fee


In a time when all public funding gets slashed, it makes no sense to pay that amount of money for what is basically a "luxury" coverage of F1. When I am abroad out of BBC range and have to watch F1 on some Polish TV or Estonian TV (with 30 minute live delay...) well... there is no DC, EJ, CH, MW etc... but I still get to watch the race...

And all the talk and commenting I can read on the internet including on JAonF1 in the evening.

So really paying 45 million for the extra pre hour, in todays world with austerity measures... is absurd.

Ecclestone should be ashamed of himself.


The rules of no advertisement is so silly. Can't the BBC subcontract out the commentary side as a separate business and then while we have the hour each side of the race build up/down the guys can have advertisements on their shirts or displays behind them, because its the same as paying to show the race as all the boards around the tracks have advertisements?

The subcontracted company can then get advertisement money to function and charge the BBC pennies for the commentary.

Just a thought!


I was thinking along the same lines in a sense of having a couple of big companies sponsor the BBC F1 coverage. Something as simple as a company logo on one of the presenters shirts goes out to 5 million or so people over a weekend.

At the end of the day the teams are loosing considerable advertising times by loosing air time to channels with adds if it moves from BBC.


On the South African channel Supersport they reduce the size of the screen and blend in some visual advertising in the remaining margin without cutting the commentary. Makes me value that advertising as it has it's right to be there but respects the viewing audiences as well to not cut the sound or picture so small that one misses anything. The whole thing lasts usually less than 10 seconds and happens throughout the race. So it is the best of both worlds. Advertising plus uninterrupted race viewing pleasure... 🙂 BBC take note.


I think it would be a good way to go, there is nothing to stop Bernie including in part of the deal the production side, taking on the show & include sponsors and sell it off cheaper to TV companies, he will not only make more money, but also improve the show with getting better access to teams & drivers (not that its bad now), but too many times has the top drivers blanked Martin on the grid.

I think I may ask Bernie for the job.

James, whats the set up with Crofty & Ant Davidson, I sometimes think the Free Pratice comentary is better. At the end they say its a "????? production", does the Beeb pay for this as an extra.


Yay, adverts. Just like the days when ITV cut to the break 3 laps from the end of a thriller (San Marino?) with Schumi chasing down Alonso!

Pre-match build-up and half-time analysis of football are almost unwatchable on commericial TV as they cut to ads every two minutes.

But its not only being ad-free where the Beeb excel. The all-round production is superb - the inventive pre-race features and interviews, the coverage of practice and the forum on the red button and the Classic F1 on the website.

Unfortunately, it looks as though it'll be dumped as a political gesture to silence the anti-Beeb establishment. As a poster above said, why is licence fee money paying for rubbish such as Eastenders when that can be done equally well by a commercial broadcaster?

I've not heard anyone say they miss the days when midfield racer Mark Blundell mangled the English language as an ITV pundit, plus they were horrendously Hamilton-focused (and I say that as a Lewis fan!).

Hopefully, whoever picks it up will retain the majority of the team behind the production. Having said that, Steve Rider was always smooth and a racing fan as his work with the touring cars shows, and James was a commentator I enjoyed listening to.

As you say in your blog James, it seems inconceivable that Channel 5 could afford it. I think they've blown their tiny budget bringing back Big Brother!


I've got no problems with F1 overage going to a commercial broadcaster like Channel 4. And the ads aren't a problem, as long as they decide to have no breaks during say the final 15 laps (or say 20 minutes). I'll never forget ITV cutting to an ad break with only 3 laps to go during the 2005 San Marino GP!! As long as they don't do that, then I've not got a problem.


I will be glad the day I can personally pay a subscription fee direct to FOM and simply watch a HD (720p/1080i) internet stream on my TV! We have all the technology, we just need somebody with the smarts to work out a deal to cut out the middle-men!


Oh, +1 here! I don't mind paying to watch the race, just give me an excellent source and no problem.


I would love it if this came into play! I'd pay decent money for it too if they put a decent commentary team in place.


I agree with Andy!

I'm an F1 fan, not a "sports fan" I dislike football, rugby, cricket, bowls, darts, etc immensely. I hate "reality TV" and there's precious little worth watching on TV at all.

F1 twice a month is the only TV I watch. I resent the BBC dumping it for more eastenders or football, it will not gain viewers, it will lose them.

How can we protest this to the BBC in a form they will take note of?



The BEEB could save a lot of money by getting rid of the rubbish soaps and reality progs. Also how much do the BBC get for selling the commentary to other countries? Could they put the price up a bit?


@Anthony unfortunately they wouldn't save that much because soaps and especially reality TV are cheap to make, that's why the broadcasters love them so much. Sports rights and major drama are the costly programmes.

Anthony from Adelaide

Alan, I couldn't agree more. Been waiting for this model for ages. Martin Whitmarsh was talking about this and his key point was that the sport needs to figure out how to "monetize" the use of the internet / iptv / social networking etc. Voila. There you have it ! PS: I still can't figure out why Brits pay a TV licence. Don't you people pay taxes ?


Boy, do we pay taxes! The TV licence is to keep the BBC ad free. It has to be paid even if you were to only watch other channels. If you don't have a TV (and this idea is catching on because of all the crap) you don't have to pay.

Chris of Adelaide

James, does the bbc get money from Australia for using the bbc feed on our screens and more money from other country's using the same feed? or does that money go straight to burnies pocket?


You have to hope all this talk is part of the Beeb and Bernie's protracted negotiations.

The BBC has done a fantastic job of immersing the viewer into the world of F1. They have set new standards in covering the sport. I seriously doubt a commercial company could or would want to compete.

I live in Switzerland and so already pay to see the coverage, and to be honest would be happy to pay more if it remained in the current format.

Out of interest does anyone know how much the BBC make out of selling there commentary and build up for the race? I've thought for a while that the BBC must actually make quite a tidy profit from all the shows they sell either through feed licensing (BBC channels) and shows, such as Top Gear.

I'm sure shows like Top Gear are cash cows for the Big British Castle.


I don't believe they make anything out of it.



BBC gets a good return on the Top Gear brand. This sum doesn't include programme sales.


Having just watched the hackergate debate, I'm minded to ask whether you have any interest to declare, in regard to another broadcaster taking over coverage.

For me, ITV coverage was cynical and generally of poor quality. I particularly single out Jim Rosenthal. Jim's demeanour, made him look as if he was only there for the money. The only time he seemed to get any enthusiasm, came when he had an announcement about ITV football coverage. ITV's production, appeared to favour just one viewer type, whilst the BBC's, appears to be satisifying all types of F1 viewer, and multiple demographics. This being judged by market research, and general perception. From a commercial standpoint, this demographic profile, is just what a sponsor requires. A slight generalisation, but most F1 sponsors products, appeal to social groups 1-5(ABC1&2 - old description). Currently, with only a few exceptions, the commercial channels are not attracting this audience. The various BBC channels are, and this is partly the driving force behind the continual attacks on the BBC as a whole. Having the BBC as the F1 broadcaster, just makes sense to all parties involved. Long may it continue.


to: fullblownseducer

Whilst your view is understandable, in wanting to give it back to the true enthusiast. There are other issues to consider. Viewer types (driver fan, team fan, petrol head, casual viewer etc) and social groups(lifestyle, education, employment, disposable income etc) are different things. Ecclestone, Mosely, Todt and FOTA have all expressed the need for F1 to have a greater reach, and a wider selection of sponsors. If you look at the Business Week list of global brands http://tinyurl.com/636s72 F1 has a reasonably representative selection from the top 30. But top brands, and most publicly recognised is a different matter. F1 needs diversity of sponsorship, and doesn't need the sort of panic shown, when it looked as if car manufacturers might all pull out. F1 needs brands like Coca Cola, Pepsi, McDonalds, Nike etc. These brands want diversity of viewer type and social groups. If the figures are correct, the BBC is delivering. Another point to consider is the available viewership for Sky. Consider the number of households that have Freeview, FreeSat, and Cable etc. Sky appears to only have a 40%≈ share. Anyway I think Mr Ecclestone's remark about Satellite having had it for peanuts and doing nothing with it, was quite telling!



You sum up quite nicely why F1 has had to move into weird 'Hotwheels' gimmicks like DRS sectors and comedy fall-apart tyres - to satisfy a larger audience. No, move F1 back to commercial/subscription channels so the true enthusiast can get his (yes, mostly his) sport back. Trying to appeal to all just makes it anodyne and crap ...[mod] bring back real F1, and start by cutting loose from the Beeb.


No interest to declare.


What a horrible story! Probably not be able to watch practice sessions, no after race forum, adds stuck all the way through coverage and especially at the worst possible times.

BBC coverage is just so good now, that is really annoying. The importance of F1 from a British perspective with most of the teams based their it is a shame that it can't be kept on BBC.


Nobody thinks Bernie could see value in droppjng the fee to help keep it on the BBC?


Guesstimate 5 million average viewers per GP, each pays beeb £10, F1 costs covered for the season by those who want it. Something tells me it can't be that simple, but it sounds like a good idea to me!


Alternatively, put the licence fee up by a couple of quid (literally) and that should get them through nicely.

In response to post #79, it was my understanding that the BBC product was sold to other countries and that they could pick which parts of the product to buy. Here in Australia, we get the qualy and race commentary from the formation lap, but no Eddie (seems some of you would like that :))or Jake and no grid walk.

I understand that Top Gear, also shown here, is sold to the local broadcasters, so I'd be surprised if F1 is not in a similar boat, which my local broadcaster then covers by selling adverts that they insert in the coverage.


People keep talking about practice sessions, and the Red Button coverage, which is fantastic, don't get me wrong..! BUT I'm sure someone like Channel 4 would offer similar services via there website. (JAMES am I correct in remembering that ITV covered the practice sessions live on their website during the 2008 season..??) Come on, it wouldn't be the end of the road!


itv showed fp1 & 2 (not fp3) online in 2008 & it was riddled with problems.

the quality was poor, many people suffered from technical problems.

problem with online only coverage is that not everyone wants to sit infront of a pc watching it when they have big screen tv's & nice big comfy chairs in the living room.

theres also the issue that a lot of people still don't have access to broadband (in some rural areas for example) and others don't have high speed broadband making watching things online next to impossible (like my parents who only use the internet for work so don't have real fast broadband & also have a 1gb/month cap).

having coverage online alongside the tv coverage (as the bbc do) is great as it gives you an option if you can't watch it on tv for whatever reason.

however making something only avaliable online is something not ideal for everyone.


With this new ruling in Germany do you dare to shine light on this whole 40m bribe scandal in Munich?


If the BBC do end their coverage then surely if a commercial broadcaster takes up the reins then we can have adverts with the programme stream looped and played back after the first advert so we did not miss a second of the race?

The only disadvantage I can see with that method is that we would be watching the end of the race possibly 40 minutes after it had actually finished, I personally cannot see a problem with that.


would also make using the live timing impossible and a lot of people use the live timing (as well as other iphone/ipad apps) alongside the tv coverage.


Is it the british taxpayers job to subsidise F1 coverage? If no-one else was going to show it, yes, you have a cultural argument. If it is going to be aired regardless, the taxpayers money should be spent elsewhere or not at all.


Firstly, let's make sure that my tin hat is on OK. . . .

To me this is actually good news! Maybe when F1 leaves the BBC the budget can be found to broadcast motoGP in HD.


Formula 1 is very expensive and that´s the problem, it´s the tickets for the races, it´s the tracks contracts, the tv coverage.

Formula 1 has become a hugely expensive sport and this is a natural consequence.

50 million a year, that´s absurd!!

Actually in Portugal we only have Formula 1 on subscrition tv ( Pay TV) and the channels like Rai and RTL from Portuguese cable and satellite suppliers are closed during the race because of the broadcasting righs.


There is no doubt that the BBC has delivered, what I feel as the best F1 coverage over the past 15 years (that I have been watching). Being an international viewer, I am not privy to all the other "extras" you guys in the UK get (no ads, BBC Formum and practice sessions). Would I pay for it now? ABSOLUTELY! I don't understand why the BBC are not monetizing F1 properly. International viewers don't even get an option to pay to view - they just shut us out! Bottom line guys, if F1 cannot sustain itself, it time to start thinking about new strategies to make money. Don't put the blame on DC and other employees. Put the blame on yourselves for keeping your money in your pocket, complaining about advertisement and demanding everything for free. Yes, as James put it rightly, ad breaks and Pay-per view options will be the future. If you were running a business and it was haemorrhaging money, would you continue to give out freebies?


We get the BBC coverage through the Ten network in Australia, which is free to air so yes they splice Ads in. Yes you do miss some action but its not the end of the world. It depends when they elect to throw to the Ad break, which sometimes is very cruel with 5 laps to go, but other times is fine. My preferred compromise would be to start coverage live but then pause/delay the coverage during the Ad breaks so that nothing is missed.

Would be most tragic to lose the BBC production and commentary however.


In Australia we listen to the BBC commentators and there are none better in the business, we have 3 ads every 10 laps or so, this is not so bad given it is on a free to air channel. So as long as we keep getting Martin’s commentaries then we are all good in Australia although our own have been known to chip in when there are technical issues.


I wish they wouldnt, (chip in that is), theres only one guy in the oz one commentary team worth listening to, the other two are worse than

the EJ/DC combo.

I have often watched practice sessions without commentary, you can hear alot more interesting paddock sounds.


Interested to know who you think is good enough to chip in?

the Kiwi trying to be Australian?, the motorbike rider the drones on about Tyre and Track temps?, or the newsreader "pretend to be" expert?

Apart from AJ there was only one other motorsport expert worth listening too, but sadly he isn't around anymore.

James, feel like hosting a show?? 🙂


I didnt want to be that harsh!

But my single vote went for the motorbike rider.

Did I mention commentary free is great too? 😉


I honestly don not think any of you have any idea how good you have it! Just try watching on SPEED or worse on FOX when it is tape delayed & they go to the interview room an only show a few comments from the winner! You know something good is about to happen because they have just cut to commercial! The closer it gets to the end of the race the more commercials they have. You Just do not know how lucky you are!! On the other hand at least we get to see it!


If a few ads is a price for getting Martin & James together again, then I'm in.

DC can stay, providing he learns to pronounce Seb's surname properly.

Here in Oz we get BBC feed with Channel 10 adding a few commercial ad breaks, usually well timed for quiet phases of the race (middle of tyre stint).

Local commentators (2 racers and an anchor) add their stuff before the race and short comments out of commercial breaks. They replay any dramas if they happened during those breaks.

All up it's quite acceptable, providing the whole telecast is put together by people who know their stuff.

Channel 10 is doing pretty good job of it.

BTW, the ads are well targeted too: engine oils, motorcycles and Mark Webber's hilarious milk ads.


The BBC feeds are great. Think we should keep that with its link to ONE HD. Good coverage, good commentry.


Here in Italy until the 2010 season we had coverage on both SKY and RAI (State TV with adverts).

The Sky coverage had one advert exactly half way through the race. RAI have about 5 2-3 advert breaks throughout, unfortunately SKY left the contract and now we just have RAI. I would like to see them take on Mediasets (Berlusconi channel) idea of showing the MotoGP race in the bottom left while the adverts run, I zoom the TV in and although not perfect you don't miss anything. Most of all I miss the Sky commentators who when viewing in car would shutup and turn up the volume just to listen to the engine.

In Italy the licence fee is similar in price to the UK - and they have additional revenue from adverts, I'm sure lots of it goes on Jean Alesi though!

In my opinion and unfortunately the BBC's desire to broadcast these kind of events is not sustainable with just the licence fee and they will need to accept advertising like most other state broadcasters worldwide.


Absolutely right James. BBC leaving prematurely is not a good signal for F1, and i feel sorry for the f1 fans in Britain and elsewhere who get the BBC coverage.Like you've mentioned they should enjoy while it lasts.

I cannot tell you how many time I've almost smashed my TV due to the no. of adverts we get during the race here in India(covered by Star Sports).Believe it or not we get almost 3 min ad breaks every 5 laps, and they don't stop/delay it for even the most crucial on track events. Given a choice i would be more than happy to pay for an interrupted coverage than having to watch this excuse of a coverage.

Since star sports is a sister company of Sky; if sky does get the UK rights it could be the same for the UK viewers, which would be horrible. Or possibly it could be converted to pay per view model, not sure if people would be happy with that either. Hope BBC can figure out a way to stay.


When I lived in Spain, tele 5 I think it was would cut to a break, but would keep showing the race in a small box (1/4 size) in the corner. This I thought was good as it kept the viewers in front of the TV and must of helped the advertisers.

I fear we're now at a time when cut backs are the fashion and maybe the beeb should be sacking the top brass who made these over spends if the budget doesn't stretch.

F1 has to be shown in the UK, the teams won't allow it to go to pay TV because their Sponsors will walk, so Bernie will cut the price and maybe that's what the Beeb is hoping.


Given the current economic climate and the fact that the BBC shares its coverage with the rest of the English speaking world, would it not be wise for Bernie to offer to reduce his fee at least temporarily in order to guarantee the quality of the product that is seen by the end user i.e. us, the viewers and in doing so encourage the BBC to stick with it whilst in the lean times? Sure, they may have to cut back their production budget but I could live with that if it meant keeping it on the BBC.

Apparently, Formula 1 is all about Hi Technology, excitement, glamour, power and competition of the absolute highest order. If the "lens" you then give the world with which to view this spectacle is of poor quality then the message is lost. It makes a mockery of the whole point of F1. It also illustrates to the fans the fact that as long as those that control the sport get their money, they don't really care about the quality of the product; a bit like the recent fiasco with the Murdochs and news international.

If I was trying to push F1 as the absolute pinnacle of sporting entertainment I would insist that it was presented to its audience on the best possible platform. That so far has been the BBC, hands down. So, it needs to remain free to air and the period of time between lights out and checkered flag (the race) should remain free from advert breaks.

They also need to keep Martin Brundle in the commentary box. The consistency of this is very important as we've all been listening to him since 1997 and we're used to his style and can interpret what he means. Also, the fact that he is ex F1 and has a degree in engineering gives you confidence that he knows what he's talking about. To lose that long established relationship with the commentary box would be a tough pill to swallow for many viewers, especially if we ended up with some hysterical NASCAR style commentator that doesn't really give any meaningful information.

I'd that hope whoever gets the gig they consider reuniting James with Martin too as the pairing was a success in my opinion. I do like MB and DC too but it does smell a little of "jobs for the boys".


I think the problem is the status of BBC? No adverts at all so no income there but I have to agree with what someone else already said - surely BBC is making money on sharing the commentary.

I personally wouldn't mind to see some sort of advertising, not the breaks though, why can't they come up with a new form of advert, something like youtube adverts that seat at the bottom of the screen? Also wouldn't mind paying £3 per race to be free from adverts. Let's just quickly go through the numbers. JH was reporting on twitter that the second to last race was watched by 6.5m people. Even if the broadcaster was charging £1 per race why wouldn't someone pay for the quality and no adverts?

Maybe someone should give Steve Jobs a call :]


Could the BBC not just get rid of Top Gear? Then they could probably afford to cure world hunger.

That's if they're not too busy blowing up cars, setting caravans on fire and closing off countries so the three kids have got somewhere nice to play.


With worldwide sales topping more than £1 billion from 13 series it's a money spinner.

It's the biggest selling factual programme in the world.


F1 used to be covered quite well in Ireland by RTE before they lost the rights to Setanta. They used to have a good build up show and usually had good access to the Jordan garage for features. They only took one commercial break during the race itself.


F1 should stay on the BBC. I don't want in-race ad breaks, and am not so sure I would still follow it if it were on c4/c5/sky.

That said, the broadcasting fee, if BBC are paying so much, is horrendous and needs to be drastically reduced.

I'm hoping this is a game of brinkmanship, to reduce the fees.

The free-to-air channels should all refuse to put in a tender unless the price is reduced.


Free to Air is the only way to go, if that means Ad breaks, then so be it, as long as the breaks arent to intrusive, ITV didnt do to bad a job. The BBC could make it more viable if they chose to do so, but surely the presenters they have are on contract to, so if they ended early, they would have to settle up with them?....F1 is going into the limelight at the moment for all the wrong reasons, what with the future of British Tv coverage in the balance, and the allegations of bribery and corruption, it seems that dark days are looming....lets hope the storm clouds pass, and the sun shines for all next season. Mind you with the money around F1, I dont know why they cant start their own Tv channel, and go on free to air via freesat, sky and come to some arrangement with freeview, if they have a dedicated channel, they could also show other Fia events, and bring them to the mass audience, we have channels dedicated to football, (granted they are subscription, but the Fia seems to have more advertising clout), so surely an FIA channel is a viable option?


Trouble with the Beeb is that the guy at the top feel it must always cover all bases. Until they realise it does not need to do this. It needs max 3 TV channels done well. The money is being spread ever more thinly.

I'd personally pay £140 - even £150 as additional subsidy for F1. Why is this not an option?

Why doesn't the BBC ever talk to the British public?


Some people cannot afford the option of paying a 'subsidy', even if they wanted to, especially in this financial climate,so the mass market that it hits now, will be grossly diminished, which the advertisers would not want, after all F1 is a highly commercial sport,also with a subsidy, there will still probably come packaged with ad breaks as well, so we go back to square one, where people would rather see F1, even if it is on free to air commercial Tv.


As others have said surely it is in F1's best interests to work something out with the BBC, the coverage and access they provide is second to none and really brings quality to 'the show'

Moving to a lower tier channel like Channel 4 downgrades the product in my opinion. Just look what has happened to WRC!


BBC´s broadcasts is not only followed by people living in Great Britain. I live in Sweden and the BBC(and previously ITV´s) broadcast is superior in every way to other broadcasts that are available. The production, the people, everything is better than for example the Swedish production.

I sincerly hope that BBC´s keeps broadcasting F1. BBC keep the good work up.

Kind regards

Johan from Sweden.


Please send you licence fee over then. That's why so many of us hate the Beeb - we're forced to pay (tax or 'enforced subscription', whatever you call it) for your entertainment. Don't blame you at all, but it's one reason I can't wait for F1 to go back to a commercial channel...


Can't help but think that F1 coverage is being used as a political pawn by the vehemently left-wing BBC against government 'cuts' (which aren't really big cuts at all, they're just not giving them as much extra as they used to!) to drag them into being a bit more efficient. Think about it, large corporation and they don't want cuts, they just want ever more of our money so how do you make a statement? Cut a couple of bought-in reality tv programs and a couple of dodgy but expensive soaps that no-one watches (Doctors for instance?) and you've saved the money required. But then you haven't made the same political statement as no-one will care that they've been stopped. Cut F1 (that people actually care about) from the line-up and suddenly you've made a big political move.

Don't really understand how they don't have the money to put on one popular program enjoyed on a regular basis by a quarter of their license payers, yet they do have the money to indulge in a pointless move up north that in the end will cost license payers BILLIONS!. (rant over 🙂 )

Marty McSuperFly

"....which aren’t really big cuts at all, they’re just not giving them as much extra as they used to..."

yeah, that's a cut mate.

as for "vehemently left-wing BBC"

What exactly do you base that on? The fact that it is not run by NewsCorp?



Even Mark Thompson, the Beeb's head, has admitted it has a left-wing bias. So has an independent report. (Not that a report was actually neede tbh - obvious anyway from the fact that Beeb jobs are ONLY advertised in The Guardian).

Pity, because it shouldn't impact F1 - it's the newsroom and current affairs output that makes people hate them for their bias.


No it's not, a cut is when you're given LESS money. They're not being given LESS money they're just not being given MORE money!

As for the bias - I base that on my own observations, admissions from BBC's own director general http://goo.gl/enRll , and from one of their own who left leaving such allegations in his wake (and yes I appreciate the irony of this appearing in the mail!) http://goo.gl/QN2GN


At the end of the day if you dont have a tv audience then you dont have a sport. So Benny should reduce the cost considerably otherwise the sport could quite easily go down the pan.


I'm accepting the fact that it's leaving the BBC. Of course it's all the BBC's to lose as you look at the other sports they cover and it is just absolutely pitiful. Perhaps they can stop showing us so many mind numbing crime dramas.

Please to God it goes to Channel 4. If it went to Sky the sport would be dead in the water compared to where it is now.


Why don't the sponsors chip in with a charitable donation to the BBC? Like the viewing public, the sponsors get uninterupted coverage so that their brand is on display throughout the race without advert breaks where their competitors products gets aired.


Just hope BBC will keep F1, I don't think there will be any match with the fantastic English commentary by Englishmen.

Have watched the American version, ermmmm.

James please, if BBC does drop F1, will Sky or whoever keep the existing line-up for the English commentators?


I'm just wondering, if we pay for the BBC why don't we the paying consumer have a say if it stays or goes? In the era of referendums I would say this may be a good route to take? I wonder what % of the BBC viewing figures are represented by F1... am assuming that is how they do the calculation and actually F1 is in the minority?


One swallow does not a summer make and 1 referendum does not an era make. You've about as much chance of flying Concorde as getting a referendum on this. The BBC are in the Government's pocket and because of the nature of their business they are uniquely positioned to reflect the governments spending cuts agenda in a forum that is tangible to the general public The tories love the fact that we all get to see London tightening its belt, so we have to too. It's all con though, the license fee isn't going down, you're just getting less for your money just as is the case with every other public service that Cameron has decided we the great unwashed can do without. Lets all eat cake! This country!!


The Beeb's coverage of F1 isn't just the best the sport has ever had, it's probably the best coverage of any sport I can ever remember watching (and I watch a lot of different sports).


I'm sure the BBC could scale back their coverage a bit to reduce the costs, and hopefully get a better deal from FOM for the rights, so then they could broadcast free and uninterrupted to the public on an affordable basis. This would satisfy most viewers but the geekier fans could pay extra for more coverage delivered via the web e.g. practise sessions, post-race forum. I'm not sure if the BBC's charter allows it to charge UK viewers for a service in this way, but if not then maybe it's something FOM themselves could take on.

I don't think moving to C4 would be a complete disaster though. It would be interesting to see who they hired for which jobs - MB is the only essential one to carry over.


I seem to remember some yrs back, that there was an F1 channel on sky, that ran alongside the free to air coverage at the time, this lasted the season, I think, so in my estimation, they tried and failed, so I cant see that working either.

As said, CH4 coverage could possibly do a great job of it, and with F1s profile being heightened at the moment, with the 'Senna' film, and the possibility of working title/ Ron Howard doing a dramatisation of the days of James Hunt, which could raise its profile more, then viewing figures could swell even more, all good news for the sponsors.


that was f1 digital+, ran in europe from 1997-2002 although it was only shown in the uk in 2002.



Maybe Ecclestone should be paying the BBC to screen it and they (FOM) could sell the rights across the globe as one has to say the beebs coverage is normally pretty good.

The BBC should not be paying over the top for anything or anyone, they should also have a cap on how much they pay their, so-called stars as that'd save costs and at the end of the day the licence fee we Brits pay is just another tax and a very unfair one at that.


According to 2010/09 accounts:-

Licence fee income - £3445m from 23m households (54m viewers)

So the F1 cost to the BBC, using James' figures, represents 1.6% of the licence fee income and yet viewing figures have been at 5-6m for most of the races this year - 9-10% of the total audience.

The licence fee hasn't decreased, and nor has the number of households, so what exactly are the BBC having to cut and who sees the benefit of this one wonders.


This does'nt sound very good at all. I hated F1 on ITV. Yes its true that Ch4 did some good things with cricket when they had it, but all that innovation is offset by commercials, which just serve to ruin any enjoyment that was to be had from said innovations. Cant have it all I suppose - except for right now, we have it all with the BBC.

Will be very sorry to see it go, not just because nobody does F1 like the BBC, but also because F1 is really the only thing left on the BBC thats worth watching. If it went, I would find it very very hard to justify keeping up the payments for a tv license. So the BBC would be missing out in more ways than one. Its their call, but I wont be bothering with telly if they pull out. Plenty of good things to be had off the internet. TV has become superfluous for me personally (and I'm only speaking for myself). F1 is the only thing I really switch on for.

So if it's bye bye to formula 1 on the Beeb, then I'm afraid its bye bye to my tv license.

Over to you in the pits, Martin!


Watching here in the US on SpeedTV is really pretty good. You Brits have been spoiled for a long time - seems like no-one wants to pay the 135GBP licence fee but everyone wants top class coverage.

Speed streams all the practice sessions live on their website and the ads during the TV coverage are a small price to pay for great HD coverage. Steve Matchett gives great technical explanations and, honestly, commentators are all commentators and there isn't a world-shattering difference between them all (I've watched F1 in UK and Germany also). When coverage switches to FOX for a couple of races mid-season - now that sucks! No pre-race and no post-interviews! 🙁

Seriously guys, it is hard to believe that any of you wouldn't prefer good F1 coverage with ads versus no coverage at all...


We HAVE to pay the licence fee, we have no choice, that's why we expect good coverage, but, lesser coverage with ads is better than nothing.


James, I don't hear any suggestion of it going back to ITV, only Ch4 and Ch5 are mentioned. Do you think ITV would not be interested if the BBC stops coverage?

I was a huge fan of you and Martin as a pairing, and Murray before that. Now I'm a massive fan of Crofty and Ant and can't imagine a F1 racing weekend without them :'(


ITV brought their contract to a premature end, which is when the BBC took it on.


I am torn over this. The natural conservative in me finds the very idea of the BBC reprehensible; it doesn't face competition, people that don't use its service still have to pay for it, and there's more than a little political bias in a lot of its programming.

The F1 fan in me appreciates the job the BBC F1 team do. They may not get everything right (I'm thinking of Jonathan Leggard and Eddie Jordan here...) but the lack of adverts, coverage of all practice sessions, the F1 forum, and the huge race day build up are undoubtedly impressive. I don't think 4 could match that.

The only provider that could, I believe, would be Sky. I think Sky would obviously have adverts, but not during the race (in the same way they don't have adverts during play in football). They would also have the resources to do F1 well. I hope, sincerely, that if F1 goes anywhere it is to Sky.


It's worth remembering that a small (but significant enough percentage) of your license fee also goes to Channel 4, which has advertising. The BBC may not be popular with self admitted Conservatives such as Daniel, and I do understand some of their concerns about their content/license fee. However it's job is to be a neutral broadcaster and is heavily moderated by Government and other bodies. We have a TV service which judging by the comments here, and by many many others around the globe is envied greatly. It often baffles me that people see it as a bad thing.

Anyhow, racing! I think ITV did a terrible job of the coverage and my lifelong passion for the sport almost completely diminished over a couple of years, mostly in part to not being able to get into the flow of a race due to adverts, not to mention a few . I did manager to get around to watching Lewis's championship win, but they had all but given up on the coverage by then.

I don't agree that Sky is a good option. F1 has a huge TV audience by most sports standards, but I personally would never purchase Sky just to watch it. While many would (and it's a shade over £70 a month if you want it with Sports folks) that is really not going to sit well with many fans. As Martin Whitmarsh alluded to in his comments, clearly the sponsors are not so keen on that idea either. I seem to remember Sky had a slogan that said Sky Sports is bringing Sports to the people.... well that is if you're well off enough to afford £20 odd per month for 4 extra TV channels.

I think Bernie should recognise that the current deal is not immune to the financial pressures of the outside world, and if he and the teams believe the coverage is the best, then drop the price to reflect current circumstances.

So yeah, obviously I want the Beeb to stay, but I fear the worst is coming.


I see it as a bad thing because I have absolutely no choice in the issue of funding it. I also remember the incredibly threatening letters I used to get when I was at University and didn't have a television (and hence not a TV license) that at the very least were intimidating.

The fact is, if I don't like Sky I can unsubscribe; if I don't like ITV I can punish them by not watching (and thus driving their advertisers away). If I don't like the BBC, I still have to pay for the "pleasure" of their service.

I am not at all surprised that the quality of the (F1) service is envied greatly - it's top draw. But the people in other countries don't have to stamp up nearly £150 a year for that service.

Anyway, this isn't really a debate about the license fee but who would provide the best service, and it seems to me quite clear that Sky would provide the absolute best coverage. As such, that's what I am hoping for. I don't think it would be as serious a financial issue as a lot of people believe - as I said before, Concord is up for renewal and with a different set of TV agreements in place the new Concord arrangement could be adjusted to accommodate F1 on Sky.


I agree with Daniel that of all the other broadcasters, Sky have the most clout and the most resources to do F1 some justice, but I still don't like the idea for other reasons. As I said, I understand that people do not necessarily like the idea of funding the BBC if they don't use the service, but I just want to delve into that a bit more......

I cannot believe in a country where we bemoan paying £12 a month for something which is arguably the best plural media service in the world, when it costs up to and including £70 a MONTH for the privilege of watching (mostly) football and other sport/repeated movies on Sky TV. Also if F1 moved to Sky, would they provide as good radio and web coverage of the sport? I highly doubt that, yet they would have plenty of money to chuck at it. They are after all, a profit driven company.

And that's my point, you'd think that for the amount of money you pay for having Sky, the quality of coverage would soar way over and above the BBC, but (judging by their other sports coverage, mostly on a par if not worse than the Beeb) it probably won't.

Governing bodies of many sports all over the world are trying to move sport from free to air TV to pay TV as much as possible (eg. Sepp Blatter talking about removing World Cup from free to air TV, I kid not....) This kind of attitude is elitist, and spreading quickly.

I just really dislike the idea that one day people who cannot afford Sky or similar pay per view services will lose out on their F1.


Sky's affordability is an entirely separate financial issue to team funding.

If I don't want Sky, I don't have to pay for it. If I can't afford Sky, I don't get. If, however, I wanted to enjoy dozens of other free channels (ITV, Five, the free to air digital stations) I still have to pay for the BBC, whether I use the service they provide or not. Sky may be pricey, but it offers a great service that nobody is compelled to take - which is why I like it as an option so much.

Nobody denies the BBC is doing a great job; but so would ITV if they could take their advertisers to court to force them to pay for advertising they didn't want.


It's a serious enough financial issue to those who can't afford Sky.


F1 going to Sky would be the worst thing that could happen. F1 needs to stay on free to air TV.

I agree that they'd do F1 well if they did get it, but I don't agree that they wouldn't put adverts during the race. With football they only don't have adverts for 45 minutes, with a race lasting 1.5 - 2 hours they'd put adverts on about every 15minutes.

The BBC is the best place for the coverage as there are no adverts, if it did go to another broadcaster, then picure in picture during the adverts would be better, but I can't see a UK broadcaster doing that.

The BBC programming seems to be getting worse. Good quality programs get cut for no reason.

I can see the reason why the BBC want to get out of the contract to broadcast F1 as it's extremely expensive, perhaps FOM need to wake up in this current financial downturn and cut the cost of the F1 coverage.


I agree, and I didn't make it clear - the BBC does brilliant coverage and ideally it would remain there (it's about the only thing I get for my license fee at the end of the day!)

At the same time, I'm not so sure F1 "needs" to be on free to air TV. I think that currently the teams make a big percentage of their money from advertising; on Sky, or any other pay-to-view TV service, they'd have to shift their finance model so they get a bigger share of the TV revenues (which may well be larger).

I think as things stand F1 and pay-to-view TV are not a great fit, but, the Concord Agreement is up for renewal and the sport could be restructured at that point - the same time the BBC contract is due to expire - to make it more suitable for paid for television.

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Maybe Chris Patten wants to spend it on BBC4 in order to increasing coverage of opera or Last Night of the Proms.


It is the BBC's mission to extend its coverage to what could be judged less popular culture.

To me, it makes sense that opera needs to be shown (and promoted) on TV as much as anything else. I see no reason for suppressing less popular culture (because of a lack of funds) to the benefit of F1 when you can have both. All I would ask is that F1 stays on Free-to-Air and no more than 3 well judged ad breaks (unlike Imola 2005 on ITV) of under 3 minutes.

And yes, I can already hear F1 fans crying foul. 🙂

P.S.: The Last Night of the Proms is has much an institution as the British Grand Prix. It just appeals to a different category of viewers.


Why hasn't the BBC switched to doing commercials, it seems like a reasonable way to bring in extra money?


In the US there are internet based alternatives to broadcast with MLB.tv for baseball and NBA League Pass for basketball. If it is the case that the rights will be sold on how about FOM unbundling them so an online HD and uninterrupted alternative could be available? I'd pay up to about £100 for a 20 race season if it meant having the all the race coverage and a good discussion forum before and after.

Current PCs, consoles and dedicated cheap hardware mean this is far more feasible now than even four or five years ago. The changes to the race format and rules don't lend themselves to commercials as much as in the ITV years. F1's audience is generally not technically averse and at any rate these technologies are more user friendly and mainstream than in the past.

To echo many comments up the board the only things I watch on tv are F1 and Top Gear (Tour de France this week also). If the BBC are insistent on scrapping half of the only tv I watch I am willing to forgo tv altogether. I know the licence covers live streaming as well but that is unenforceable and a joke.

Without getting too far into licence fees the worry is that in 2018 when the licence conditions are renegotiated it will become a blanket 'computer' or 'connectivity' licence. Talk about off mission.


Looking back, the original Auntie coverage pre '97 was poor. They had an act to live up to after the ITV coverage and have done well, with the exception of employing the Latin Teacher. But time moves on. If I have to pay Murdoch, however, then I will in future miss all but the events I attend in person. And that since 1972.

Patrick McLaughlin

Living in Ireland I grew up watching BBC coverage of qualifying and race.

I followed the old Sunday Morning warmup, Friday qualifying and practice sessions on Eurosport. (Ben Edwards and John Watson were great !)

BBC did not always treat F1 that well. Its coverage improved in the late 80s until it lost out to ITV for 1997 season.So to be honest this situation comes as no surprise to me.It is obvious quite a few of the decision makers do not value F1 as a sport.

Despite the ad breaks, ITV's coverage raised the bar. BBC is merely following ITV's dedication to buildup and analysis. Although thier dedication to practice sessions is most welcome.

I feel we are moving towards an internet broadcast platform. I personally would pay right now for BBC iplayer (Unavailable to me in Ireland). Maybe Chad Hurley and YOUtube will help us out.

This is worth a look for comparison - British Broadcast Rights for FA Premier League.

1992-1997: BSkyB, 60 games/season, £190m – deal value, £633,000/game

1997-2001: BSkyB, 60 games, £670m, £2.79m/game

2001-2004: BSkyB, 110 games, £1.2bn, £3.64m/game

2004-2007: BSkyB, 138 games, £1.024bn, £2.47m/game

2007-2010: BSkyB and Setanta, 138 games, £1.706bn, £4.12m/game

2010-2013: BSkyB/Setanta 138 games, £1.782bn, £4.3m/game

Ps it would not do F1 any harm to allow Youtube to post historic coverage. How many of us have searched Monaco '92 to find the thrilling last laps blocked ? If FOM allowed this it would further raise the sport's profile.


£50 million a year sounds a lot, but it's pretty small beer compared with other tax payer funded things.

Up until this year we have been giving £220 million a year development to China. A counrty that has no difficulty in paying for a GP.

Next year we are giving almost £1 billion aid to India who are planning their own Grand Prix.

The BBC should see out the 5 year contract and then try for a better deal.


For someone who stays in India, I dunno where we get the feed from but the coverage I must say is decent and yes We do have AD's in between. I guess one gets used to it over a period of time. So if in case Beeb drops F1 the people will make a little noise initially but will get along with whatever comes along as something is better than nothing!


James, do you have any idea (and are you able to say..) how much money the BBC gets for selling commentary to other countries (eg Australia, where I am..)? I mean, Is it significant in offsetting the costs of F1 coverage, or is it basically a drop in the ocean?

Also, do you think the BBC's threats to pull out are a tactic to reduce the cost of the F1 rights, or do you think it's a genuine threat?


I don't think they get anything for it. I'm not sure they are the ones selling it..

Mark in Australia

I must say the level of coverage supplied to us here in Australia on One HD through the BBC is outstanding. (Of course with the extra assistance of experts like James Allen and Tom Clarkson). I only wish we got half the coverage you guys get in the UK with Martin and David's further insights and special features - I believe Martin drove the Ferrari at Jerez recently on the new rubber???

I believe the BBC coverage streamed into Australia has had a direct and positive impact on the coverage of our own V8 Supercars, which is on a rival free to air television network. It took a few years to get there, and could do with improving further still, but I guess we are spoilt with lots of free to air motorsport.

I am not sure what One HD fork out for the Formula One rights here in Australia, but I am sure Bernie makes a nice quid out of it.

I can only hope the BBC decide to keep F1, or whomever takes over the coverage in the future can maintain the status quo.


I really hope the coverage stays on the BBC, if only for the lack of ads. Here in Australia, One HD, were a bit unlucky, but they had a shocking British Grand Prix and missed almost all of the key events with ad breaks, and the local hosts don't do great job of catching up with what was missed when the coverage comes back


After years of ad free racing any alternative to the BBC is going to be hard to take for F1 fans. Selfishly if i had the option id rather F1 go to Sky as im a subscriber and they would have brilliant production and give F1 a solid place on their channels not to mention the online, HD and Red button services.

But taking my selfish hat off, obviously its not free to air so a huge amount of F1 fans would miss out or have to pay to get Sky. The solution is to give it to Channel 4. I shudder to think of F1 on Channel 5.


Don't forget this brilliant resource, when viewing on tv with adverts or not



I live in Poland and here we have F1 broadcasted in HD by free to air TV without commercial breaks. Yet, i still prefere to pay 6$ a month to get access to iPlayer because BBC coverage is simply amazing, with excellent Brundle, Ted Kravitz and F1 forum which i find quite interesting. What i don't understand is that in 21 century there is lack of pay-per-view service in internet (for example via F1.com) with rich coverage and professional comment. I would pay 20$ monthly subscription for that and i assume many other fans too. I do hope that Adam Parr and Martin Whitmarsh' voices about F1 presence in internet is just a beginning of the right process. Let the BBC axe F1 and then Bernie hire that whole team to produce stunning F1 coverage like they do it for beebs. Then sell it as PPV worldwide via internet = more money, more revenues for teams, happy fans.


I wonder if the private channels are wanting to institute a service similar to US TNT's "NASCAR RaceBuddy" (which is free). In RaceBuddy, a NASCAR.COM online service, various in-car and other cameras are "set" for the channels. One "channel" is aimed at one car's in-car, another on a second in-car, one on pit lane, one on the best battle. The six-race package was successful that RaceBuddy was instituted for the Daytona 500 heat races, All-Star Race, and Speed's Camping World Truck Series package.

Speed announced that for Sunday's MotoGP (MotoGP class only) round in Monterey, California (Laguna Seca), RaceBuddy-style in-bike coverage (only; MotoGP won't let them have the pit lane or best battle) will be available on SPEED.COM (US only).

Wonder how much each broadcaster would pay the bill to have F1 RaceBuddy where viewers could log online, watch live in-car streaming, and additional feeds not shown on television. RaceBuddy would compliment the television coverage with the live streams of selected cars, best battles, and pit lane, with a live timing application. I think a network that pays for rights and adds RaceBuddy would benefit.


Perhaps if the BBC got rid of the current team and replaced them with blokes that sound like East End gangsters they could justify keeping F1 as this seems to be the current policy on BBC programming.


And about time too. Why should the licence fee payer continue to be fleeced by the wealthy?


Well, JA, way to set the cat among the pigeons!!

If nothing else, I think the response to your article has been so passionate, and so overwhelming that I hope the BBC take note and consider doing whatever they can to retain the F1. Their broadcast is second to none, you rarely see any criticism of it. They really could leverage of this and make it a flagship BBC production.


i have to agree with msmelbournegirl

James, do you pass these column urls to the relevant people within F1 and the BBC? i think it would be interesting to see if the decision makers in both camps took any notice of the fans views (as usual here, the real fans make good points)


I prefer the BBC for formula 1 as they have no stupid adverts, they the adverts are a waste of space and money. the adverts never tell the truth what they advertize. also while the adverts are on we are missing too much of formula 1 races etc.


BBC are going down the swanney these days. The quality is fast delining. Instead of axing F1, why doesn't it axe their endless detective dramas.

Most of us would rather watch old repeats of Only Fools and Horses and Dad's Army (which would be a cheap option for BBC) than be subjected to crap dramas.

So much for BBC boasting of being a service that provides the best in everything. The jewel in the crown of their sports package, if F1 goes, will be late night footie highlights. Pathetic.


Great news on this today - Sky will provide top quality coverage (as they're doing with the Test match I'm watching right now) and this can only be good for the Sport.

Now though, I am left in the frustrating situation of paying for a BBC service I get literally nothing out of.


Boxing used to be popular, Tyson, Bruno, who are the boxing superstars now? I don't know because Sky has turned it into a minority sport due their exclusive and pay per view coverage. Think on F1.

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