ITV defends Canada F1 coverage

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

ITVAngry F1 fans stormed the ITV forums after the broadcaster brought coverage of the Canadian Grand Prix to an abrupt end following Lewis Hamilton’s maiden Grand Prix win.

There was no coverage of the press conference or much analysis at all of the British star’s first win, not to mention an action-packed race which also saw an astonishingly lucky escape for Robert Kubica.

This is what ITV’s Director of News and Sport, Mark Sharman had to say:

With the Safety Car running four times, the Canadian race was well behind time

No it was not. The maximum length of time a Grand Prix can run to is two hours. The Canadian Grand Prix lasted an hour and 44 minutes. The previous round at Monaco was only four minutes shorter.

ITV has been covering Grands Prix four 11 years now. In that time has it not realised that, unlike football matches, races can take a variable amount of time to complete? Did it not notice that the safety car is often deployed at Montreal?

I had to negotiate a lengthy over-run which delayed Coronation Street by several minutes.

Had the Canadian Grand Prix gone up to the full two hours, might ITV then have not shown the end of it?

The programme ended on a high, with the national anthem and the spraying of champagne.

That is just lamentable spin. The final minutes of the programme were rushed, with a couple of advert breaks hastily thrown in, and many story threads from a complex Grand Prix left hanging.

F1 fans don’t care about the programme ‘ending on a high’ – they want intelligent analysis and information about what happened in the parts of the race the cameras didn’t show.

Several of you made the point that we could have used a red button service or switched to ITV4. The reality is that we don’t have the capacity at present to offer a full red button alternative – and our broadcast systems don’t allow us to make an unplanned programme switch.

In that case ITV is lagging years behind its rivals. BBC regularly uses is multiple channels to shift coverage of sporting events such as Wimbledon.

Our access around the paddock and garages, our editorial features and race coverage constantly set the highest standards of sports broadcasting.

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, Montreal, 2007, 4Many fans would disagree. Steve Rider and Mark Blundell are left to scream over the top of the engines in the paddock as ITV stopped using its dedicated studio years ago.

Last weekend’s coverage focused on Lewis Hamilton to the exclusion of all else. And the quality of that coverage was terrible – the opening piece on Saturday about the Monaco Grand Prix was extremely biased.

There is one piece of good news from ITV:

For this week’s Grand Prix [United States] we have made the necessary arrangements. If the race overruns and we aren’t able to screen interviews on ITV1, we will continue the show on ITV4.

That is a positive step. Let’s hope ITV continue in this fashion to address the other shortcomings in their often disappointing coverage.

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