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SBD/July 29, 2011/Media
BBC, Sky To Share U.K. F1 Rights As Sport Shifts Off Free-To-Air TV
Published July 29, 2011
LOSING FORMULA: In London, Kevin Eason notes the deal was "greeted with dismay by hundreds of thousands of fans," who "bombarded social networking sites protesting that the BBC's coverage will be reduced to just ten races." Former F1 driver Stirling Moss wrote on his Twitter feed, "For F1, and more importantly the UK, fans I can not see this being good over the long term. The casual viewing figure will drop significantly. I would not want [to] pay Sky to see the rest of the season." Eason notes F1 Management Chair Bernie Ecclestone is "due to fly into Budapest, where he will be met with a hostile reception from teams, who knew nothing of the deal until they switched on news channels in their motorhomes before this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix." The teams "have been pushing Ecclestone to keep the sport on free-to-air BBC where Formula One has been enjoying huge audiences this season" (LONDON TIMES, 7/29).
BBC DEFENDS MOVE: In Manchester, Gibson & Plunkett report the BBC is defending its decision to renegotiate its F1 deal, claiming it "would have otherwise been forced to ditch the sport altogether." BBC Dir of Sport Barbara Slater said the savings as part of the new deal were "genuinely significant." However, Gibson & Plunkett note the net is saving at least US$40.7M "less a year." Given that Sky will be paying more than US$26.8M per year "for full live rights, which it will exploit across all platforms, the expectation is that Bernie Ecclestone has again negotiated a significant increase of the total flowing into the sport" (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 7/29).