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The BBC is to end its Formula 1 coverage three years early, according to Broadcast, which suggests that former UK free-to-air rights holder ITV will take over the deal, which was scheduled to last until 2018.
Such a deal would likely see ITV will broadcast a selection of races live, as the BBC has done in recent seasons, with the remainder shown as highlights. UK pay-TV licensee Sky Sports’ full-season coverage is unlikely to change.
The BBC has indicated recently that some of its sports rights deals were in question as it struggles to save costs. It has agreed a match-sharing deal with ITV for Six Nations Rugby Union coverage which it had previously shown exclusively FTA.
The BBC resumed its F1 coverage in 2009 when ITV dropped out halfway through its contract, at a time it also had Champions League rights – shared with Sky. Both parties were outbid by BT for the exclusive live rights.
An ITV spokesman said in March 2008 that the decision to exit Formula One at the end of that season was “a straightforward commercial decision for ITV”.
After taking over coverage of Grands Prix in 1997 ITVC was regularly criticised for the timing of its commercial breaks during live action and inconsistent scheduling of practice sessions at events in non-European time zones. Sky shows races uninterrupted by ad breaks.