Ecclestone says BBC sought deal with Sky

sky tv televisionAug.19 (GMM) Formula 1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone claims the BBC’s ongoing contract meant he could not keep formula one on free-to-air television in Britain, citing the broadcsters lucrative deal to televise F1 through 2014 which, amid the need to cut costs, the public broadcaster has delegated half of next year’s live coverage to the pay channel Sky.

The move has enraged many British fans, particularly amid reports Channel 4 and ITV were open to negotiating to broadcast formula one live.

“They (BBC) got to grips with Sky themselves,” F1 chief executive Ecclestone told the Mirror.

“I spoke with ITV too, and came up with the same problem as Channel 4 had. We had a contract with the BBC which didn’t run out until 2014.”

Asked if the BBC “held all the cards” when it came to selecting a co-broadcaster, Ecclestone insisted: “Yes, absolutely.

“If they (Channel 4) had said they wanted to sign a contract today to start broadcasting for 45 million pounds a year, then we would have probably done it.

“But that’s the problem. We couldn’t deal with them, even if they had wanted to.”

Ecclestone denied that the loss of full free-to-air coverage for F1 in the crucial British market will affect the popularity of the sport.

“In the short-term, I think that collectively taking in the amount of broadcasting that’s going to be scheduled between the two of them next year, there will be more eyeballs watching than we have now.

“That’s good for us, good for the teams and good for the fans,” he said.

  • Monkey man

    Absolute toss. This is just the start of a full move to Sky, and when that happens the sport will officially be dead in the UK.

    The BBC have sold the fans out.

  • Bec

    Unless Sky can achieve over 900,000 viewers per race, the loss per race of sponsors ‘brand exposure’ in the UK will be £3.4 million.

    The Channel 4 deal would have delivered £910,000 extra income to every team (on average), while the Sky deal brings in just £90,000 more (at £1 million), but crucially Channel 4 were also offering, ” More commercial opportunities for teams through sponsorship and ad-funded content.”, which undoubtedly would have easily outperformed the Sky deal.

    The BBC along with FOTA (in particular Adam Parr) have damaged F1 in the UK.

  • D Hart

    I think everyone involved in this sham should wake up and read the 10,000 comments on BBC F1 blogs alone. No-one comes out this with with any credit whatsoever – the sport has been tainted by this deal and for Bernie and Sky and BBC to keep banging on about how many more viewers they’ll get shows just how far removed they are from reality.

  • Buxton

    Can someone confirm this article please? I thought the Beeb’s contract ended in 2013? I am an F1 fan but I don’t want to be lead wrongfully and react to information that is not factual… I shall be waiting before I spill my wrath.

  • Bec


    Confirm what exactly?

    The BBC wanted out of the contract early so as to spend money on Olympic coverage and a Karaoke show, the BBC approached Sky to be its junior partner, in a cynical attempt to stop Channel 4 buying the rights to F1.

    The BBC have received more complaints on this issue than any other, but are still yet to provide a response.

    You can sign the government e-petition, it will at least embarrass the BBC

    The Channel 4 bid included:

    More extensive coverage across our networks than ever before.
    More live hours of racing free-to-air, no pay-wall.
    More prime time exposure, more re-runs and no ‘red button’ hideaways.
    More commercial opportunities for teams through sponsorship and ad-funded content. Free from BBC constraints.
    Unparalleled marketing and cross-promotion.
    A greater range of original programmes from documentary to entertainment.
    More historical coverage of F1 with extended use of archive.
    High impact factual programmes focussing on engineering and mechanics.
    More cross-platform content and converged innovation.
    Major educational outreach with F1 academy projects.

  • F1 fan

    I predict pay per view on Sky within 5 years and that will then be the very end of F1 for good.

  • Andy-London

    I was on holiday when I heard this news and I have mixed feelings. I have grown to love the whole BBC coverage of F1 and will seriously miss Brundle in the box – that for me is my main issue, and of course we will have adverts. In years previous we probably wouldn’t miss anything important when ITV had adverts, but this year is different with DRS and Pirelli and next year we will no doubt miss a lot of action every time there are ads.
    On a positive side. Sky’s coverage of absolutely all sports is incredible, from speedway to cricket, so no doubt it will take some getting used to (like the Premiership did).