ITV defends Canada F1 coverage

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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11 comments on ITV defends Canada F1 coverage

  1. Dan M said on 15th June 2007, 15:32

    Well I thought it was just us in the States that got screwed. Immediately following the race, right after Hamilton ran passed his father without even greeting him (fathers day is this Sunday, not last, but still….), coverage cut to some show that no one ever watches. The filler TV they put on in the middle of the weekends when everyone is out doing something else.

    Coverage started literally when the warm up lap had just finished, something I would like to see with NASCAR rather then running a 4 hour pre-race show…..This is a far cry from the coverage that SPEED has been providing. Speed has been showing highlights from the practice round, the full qualifying and a pre race coverage with a brief interview with some of the more approachable drivers.

    Hopefully with the advancements being made in fiber optics and information bandwidth in general, we will be able to select what we watch rather then the station itself… Sony and Toshiba have hinted at using a very scalable processor chip known as “cell” (used in PS3) that is capable of displaying 40 simultaneous streams on your TV screen at once, from this YOU select what to watch at what time.

    Did anyone outside the States get the coverage of the Thursday interview with all the drivers? I recorded it and have yet to watch all but the Spyker interview…. What a great idea, it certainly helps you relate to the drivers, something lacking in the States.

  2. M Smith said on 15th June 2007, 16:31

    I used to like ITV’s coverage. It was a fresh way to present F1 to the way BBC did it. But the constant commerical breaks (that ITV fail to put into the pre-race program, instead putting them in the race) and the constantly biased coverage.

    The people at ITV could have realised that the circuit in question is very likely to run longer than expected, and Coronation Street could have been schulded to be half an hour later.

    This fiasco is not as bad as San Marino ’05 where ITV cut to a commerical break right in the middle of the Button/Schumi battle.

    Come one, ITV! Get your act together!

  3. SoLiD said on 15th June 2007, 18:15

    san marino 05 was alonso/schumi btw ;)

    Don’t get why you are so against ITV coverage, i love it.
    All the rest are a lot worse.
    And pro britain is normal when you watch a British broadcast!
    That’s putting passion into it, and they comment for the british public…

  4. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 15th June 2007, 18:38

    Well for starters they only talk about one British driver – there are four of them!

    Anthony Davidson, for example, was set to take third last weekend until he hit a groundhog. That’s newsworthy – ITV missed it completely.

    It’s fine for them to be enthusiastic about Hamilton – but to misrepresent the facts about the Monaco the way they did last weekend was disgraceful.

    They misunderstand how knowledgeable much of the British public is about motor racing. Plenty of foreign drivers and teams get a lot of support from British fans.

    And then there’s the usual complaints – they ruin the coverage with adverts, they cut it short, James Allen is hugely unpopular, etc…

  5. That was just a weird bunch of excuses. The race did not over-run – ITV simply couldn’t be bothered to allocate enough time for it. That is easily corrected – since the maximum race length is two hours, the race coverage should not end until at least two hours after the red lights go out. After all, ITV is contractually obliged to show the entire race, so there should be space in the broadcasting schedule to do that. Otherwise they’ll be in trouble with Bernie. Surely people on other programmes could stand having delayed coverage of their (non-live) programmes for a couple of weeks a year?

    The programme may have ended on a high, but many of us do not consider the race over until it is analysed. The ITV director has finally seen sense in putting over-running comments on ITV4. It’s just that ITV shouldn’t try fooling us into being satisfied with an inferior product when we know it can and should do better. Particularly when it already has (if the director has forgotten, he should review the archive tapes for the 1997-1999 ITV broadcasts).

    Granted that BBC’s interactive services don’t work where I live, but a similar service for ITV (even if it’s in a form of Teletext, as per Sky Sports News on Freeview) for overspilling interviews would be a useful enhancement. The technical aspects of ITV’s broadcasting may be top-notch – but it is not on the same part of the technology curve as its rivals, and it would be advisable for ITV to not claim otherwise. Even if this race has guaranteed ITV next year’s Sports BAFTA…

  6. Simon Stiel said on 16th June 2007, 10:01

    With the exception of the abrupt end to the programme, where ITV’s coverage really shined in Canada was Martin Brundle’s F1 Insight which is really educational. It’s interesting to note that on Talksport Radio, listeners can hear the opinions of Autosport’s Andrew van der Burgt and Anthony Rowlinson.

    Since Mark Hughes already provides information for James Allen and Martin Brundle in the commentary box it would be truly beneficial to hear from him. He has excellent observation skills and knows what makes F1 drivers tick in terms of driving technique. ITV providing him with a slot on the show will provide the “intelligent analysis” that viewers want.

  7. Just been watching the BBC’s coverage of the 1996 San Marino GP – 28 minutes of build up – all ad free. Interviews with all the leading qualifiers, and a “Grandstand Guide” where Jonathon Palmer talked intellegenty about starts.

    So more proper F1 information in half the scheduled time it takes ITV to tell us about drivers’ cooking habits and so on. FAR better than ITV, even if the BBC weren’t always this good it shows what was possible 11 years ago and how ITV haven’t improved on it at all.

  8. After the race, I couldn’t believe the poor coverage either and I’m really glad I found this forum…
    ITV have been throwing in advert breaks and missing important bits of F1 races for years … E.G Damon Hill or Schumacher suddenly retiring whilst they were on course to win. The poor presenters were left apologising for missing such moments.

    I’m in my early thirties and have been an F1 fan since ITV took over the coverage and it is slick, but commercials always interrupt the coverage and some advert breaks do seem over long …

    Kind Regards,

    A B

  9. Tommy B said on 12th July 2007, 21:57

    ITV is awful!! Get it back to BBC who understand people care about F1, leave James Allen behind but bring Martin Brundle over and find a new commentator?

  10. Pointer said on 29th October 2008, 13:47

    The Chain, The Chain, The Chain. If they don’t bring that back, I’ll cry. Still brings a shiver to my spine when I hear it to this day. Oh… and no adverts will be a bonus too.

    I don’t know if it’s even possible with FOM, but could the BBC offer a ‘red button’ service whereby you could pick your own cameras, e.g. follow your favourite driver for a few laps? Also, switching from TV commentary to 5 Live has saved my sanity on many occasion whilst watching the football.

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