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BBC, Sky to share live F1 rights

July 29, 2011

By Colin Mann

BBC TV and Sky Sports have been awarded the live rights to Formula 1 between 2012 and 2018. The BBC currently screens the sport on an exclusive basis in the UK.

The broadcasting partnership will include:

– All races, qualifying and practice sessions live on Sky Sports across TV, Online and Mobile and Tablet devices.

– Half the races and qualifying sessions remain live on BBC TV, Online and Mobile including key races such at the British Grand Prix, Monaco Grand Prix and the final race of the season.

– Extensive BBC highlights on TV, Online and Mobile, of all races and qualifying sessions that BBC is not covering live.

– Build up coverage of each Grand Prix on BBC News, Sky Sports News and Sky News.

– Extensive multi-platform coverage including red button, and

The audiences brought by Sky and BBC will ensure Formula 1reaches the widest possible audience. BBC Radio Five Live and Sports Extra will continue to cover every race live.

Barbara Slater, Director of BBC Sport, said: “We are absolutely delighted that F1 will remain on the BBC. The sport has never been more popular with TV audiences at a 10 year high and the BBC has always stated its commitment to the big national sporting moments. With this new deal not only have we delivered significant savings, but we have also ensured that through our live and extended highlights coverage all the action continues to be available to licence fee payers.”

Barney Francis, Managing Director of Sky Sports, said: “This is fantastic news for F1 fans and Sky Sports will be the only place to follow every race live and in HD. We will give F1 the full Sky Sports treatment with a commitment to each race never seen before on UK television. As well as unrivalled build up to each race on Sky Sports News, we will broadcast in-depth live coverage of every session. Sky customers with Sky Sports will also be able to enjoy F1 across multiple platforms and devices, including Sky Go.”

Sky Sports has confirmed that it will not run adverts during its broadcast coverage of Formula 1 races next year, limiting them to the pre and post-race show.

UK commercial broadcaster ITV, which held the UK rights between 1997 and 2008, attracted much criticism for its scheduling of adverts, often missing key moments in a race.

A spokesperson for Sky Sports told Autosport magazine that the channel wouldn’t have adverts while the races are running. “We know they were very unpopular in the past and we don’t have to go down that route,” The broadcaster has no plans to introduce a ‘pay-per-view’ scheme for races, which means that F1 fans wishing to watch the races that are not being shown live and free-to-air on the BBC will have to purchase a Sky Sports package and pay from £31.95 per month for it.

The BBC will continue to show highlights of each race it does not broadcast live.

With the move already unpopular among F1 fans, the sports team principals gathered in Hungary for the weekend’s Grand Prix have given the initiative a mixed response, and are seeking further details from commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone to find out what the specifics of the deal are.

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said he felt it important F1 was not taken off free-to-air. “As I understand BBC are covering half the grands prix, and Sky are doing every practice session and everything else. It’s interesting,” he told Autosport. “I don’t think anyone should be immediately reacting to say this is good, bad, or indifferent. What we need to understand is whether the large audience we currently enjoy in Formula 1 will be maintained. I think we also need to understand exactly how this is being done.”

Whitmarsh said moves to take F1 off free-to-air could be viewed as a breach of the Concorde Agreement which governs the commercial aspects of the sport, claiming that there were clauses in the deal that ties the teams, Ecclestone and the FIA together that guarantees the sport’s broadcast platform.

Williams chairman Adam Parr said the key was understanding the finer details of the arrangement – because what teams lose in widespread television viewing figures could be gained in an increased revenue from Sky. “In principle I have no issue with optimising the balance between the revenues that we need, and getting a good reach in the audience,” he said.



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