Could BBC open ‘Grand Prix’ archive?

BBC Grand Prix LogoThe BBC’s web chief Ashley Highfield spoke in an interview with The Independent today about how he wants to open the BBC’s archives via the Internet.

Of greatest interest to Formula One fans would be the archives of Grand Prix, the BBC’s Formula One coverage programme which ran from 1978 to 1996.

The two most likely obstacles to this happening would be a lack of interest from the BBC and the question of whether they are allowed to rebroadcast the footage under the terms of their original agreement with the Formula One Constructors’ Association.

I’m no legal expert – but as Highfield is certainly a Grand Prix fan. Here’s hoping:

Shortly before his recent 40th birthday he sat himself behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car and took it for a few laps of Magny-Cours, home of the French Grand Prix…he [has] a racing driver’s cap, autographed by Jenson Button, resting on the top of his chair.

I think I speak for the majority of Formula One fans when I say that we would all love to be able to review some of the classic Formula One moments complete with the Murray Walker and James Hunt commentary.

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3 comments on Could BBC open ‘Grand Prix’ archive?

  1. Whilst this would be a great thing to happen, I believe that it cannot be done, as FOCA owns all the rights to all F1 race footage shown anywhere ever (or something like that).

    I remember that for Grandstand’s 50th anniversary programme they could barely show any F1 coverage (even footage from Silverstone that they had produced) as Bernie was charging the equivalent cost of a whole series of Last of the Summer Wine to show 10secs of Nigel Mansell (not a bad trade off when you think about it).

    Even so there is clearly a demand for this footage (see various websites) and there must surely be a case for a BBC/FOCA joint venture to put some of this online as a subscription download serivce (say £1 a race), or out officially as DVD’s. W

  2. Robert McKay said on 12th May 2007, 21:26

    I’m all for some sort of download subscription service/DVD boxset of old races. I can’t see why there shouldn’t be one. Take all the Micheal Schumacher fans there were at the end of 2006: what fraction of his races did they all see? I’m sure many saw the success years at Ferrari, but how many saw the early Ferrari years, or the Bennetton successes, or even his first race for Jordan? I’m sure you could market that. And I’m sure it’d be even easier to market the classic Senna/Prost years, with Mansell and Piquet for good measure. And even the Villeneuve era.

    I’m hopeful that the continued rise of the internet will see some sort of F1 download service eventually, but it’ll probably only be the current years races or maybe one or two years back (a similar service to that already offered by Moto GP’s website!). But I doubt we’ll see a true archive, probably because Max and Bernie don’t want you thinking how good the racing used to be. And of course in the meantime they’ll be clamping down on whatever snippets of old footage make it onto YouTube, and the like.

  3. FOCA only own the rights from about 1980 onwards.

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