Fans outraged at new F1 televsion deal
Formula One fans have reacted with outrage to the news that half the Formula 1 calendar will be taken off free-to-air television in the United Kingdom from 2012 as part of a new share deal between Sky Sports and the BBC.
While all grands prix, qualifying and practice sessions will be broadcast on pay channel Sky Sports, only half the races will be shown live on the free-to-air BBC in the new arrangement, which runs from 2012 to 2018.
The BBC will continue to show highlights of the races it is not covering live, and its Radio 5 Live arm will have live commentary on all rounds.
Eurosport Yahoo! user saunders0000 summed the feeling of terrestrial TV viewers by saying: "I cannot believe they would do this to F1 fans - this is unbelievable.
“After following it for over 20 years you’ve taken away my favourite sport. Well thanks very much for that. I will never pay to watch it on Sky Sports – I shouldn’t have to. RIP F1 you will be sadly missed by millions.”
“This is a terrible idea. The BBC has peaked at 10 million viewers this season, Sky has only 10 million subscriptions in total and I don’t know how many of them subscribe to Sky Sports,” added Wini_Hatton.
“The current BBC coverage is the best coverage I have seen in years. I’m sure all the sponsors won’t be happy when the UK viewing figures fall to around a million when the races are on Sky.”
Even BBC commentator and former F1 driver Martin Brundle said on Twitter that he was “not impressed” with the deal.
"BBC/Sky/F1 2012+. Found out last night, no idea how it will work yet I'm out of contract, will calmly work through options. Not impressed," he wrote.
Meanwhile, Formula 1 teams admitted they will seek clarification from Bernie Ecclestone on the new BBC/Sky television deal amid the concerns.
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh told AUTOSPORT: "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."
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 told AUTOSPORT. "The devil is in the detail.
"I think it is a balance and, without knowing the details, you cannot comment on whether it is good or bad. What I do know is that Bernie is a very passionate believer in getting the broadest audience possible and I think he has almost certainly done this in order to do that. "