ITV loses F1 coverage to BBC from 2009

British F1 fans will be able to enjoy live Formula 1 free from adverts next year as the BBC have won the right to screen live coverage.

ITV has broadcasted the sport since 1996 and angered many fans by missing up to 15 minutes of every race with advert breaks. Last year ITV missed the moment that decided the world championship – Lewis Hamilton’s gearbox problem in Interlagos – because they were on an advert break.

More recently fans have bemoaned the obsession with Lewis Hamilton in much of the coverage.

And lead commentator James Allen, who took over from Murray Walker in 2002, has never enjoyed popularity among the sport’s fan base. It’s not yet known who BBC might put in the lead commentary chair – Walker did the European Grand Prix for Radio Five as a one-off last year but he has said he’s not up to doing a large number of races per year.

ITV-F1 hasn’t been without successes though. The appointment of Martin Brundle as second commentator was an excellent move and has been very well received. And they began broadcasting F1 live online this year, allowing British viewers to watch two of the practice sessions for the first time.

BBC’s deal will allow them to broadcast F1 on television, online (via its iPlayer service) and on mobile platforms. BBC already has some high definition channels as well, so we might finally get to see F1 in HD as well.

Ironically television communications regulating body Ofcom had recently revealed it was looking into changing advertising restrictions which might have forced ITV to reduce the number of adverts in its coverage.

It also appears ITV’s existing F1 deal has been cut short. At the last extension of their contract it was reported they would show F1 until the end of 2010, but that appears to have been cut back by two years. Was this ITV’s choice?

More on ITV and F1

2009 F1 season

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94 comments on ITV loses F1 coverage to BBC from 2009

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  1. Mark said on 20th March 2008, 7:11

    This could well be the best news we will have all year.

  2. Sam B said on 20th March 2008, 7:32

    Wow, this put a smile on my face this morning!

    Hopefully they’ll move Brundle across too, and of course bring back the ‘proper’ F1 theme music :)

  3. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 20th March 2008, 7:33

    I support both those ideas :-)

  4. Brilliant to have coverage back on the bbc … just don’t get Gary to front the coverage.

  5. Darryl said on 20th March 2008, 7:45

    Woohoo!!! This is great news. Can we all join hands and shout "HD!!!"

    I just hope Brundle comes along…

  6. Fantastic news. Couldn’t believe my eyes when I read it.
    The original theme tune surely must return. At least now we won’t miss a second of the action. :)

  7. It sounds like good news, after all the adverts are bloody annoying; however, I do wonder about their pre-race coverage.

    If there is one thing you can say about ITV is that it had a very slick look and feel to it, as you would expect from commercial TV. Will the BBC be able to live up to that? or will it be a little raw like the Moto GP tends to be?

  8. Mark said on 20th March 2008, 8:24

    Da-da-dum, da-da-dadi-dum Dum!

  9. I want in decending order of importance:

    the Music

    If they don’t bring Brundle accross I’ll be very disapointed.

  10. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 20th March 2008, 8:50

    According to The Guardian ITV pulled out of its deal. So what we have here is ITV giving up and the BBC taking over more or less by default. They did have two more years to run on their contract.

  11. sChUmAcHeRtHeGrEaTeStEvEr said on 20th March 2008, 8:59

    great news if brundle goes and theres more than the 15-20 minutes of build up pre race. most football games on the bbc get 15 minutes build up hbopefulloy they will follow itv in that respect but otherwise im just delioghted that i wont have to listen to james allen talking aload of crap for 2 hours every other sunday :-)

  12. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 20th March 2008, 9:02

    You want them to get rid of Brundle? I think he’s great.

  13. Cooperman said on 20th March 2008, 9:07

    This is truly fantastic news! The BBC will have to up to Auntie (if you pardon the pun) to package it as well as ITV have done but no advert breaks will increase the standard of the coverage no end.

    I agree with most; Brundle getting the gig must be the top item on the BBC’s priority list, followed by cloning Murray Walker.

    I feel sorry for Steve Ryder getting his timing wrong but hopefully the Beeb will see sense and take him back. Having a host who actually knows what he’s talking about is a massive boost.

  14. Scott Joslin said on 20th March 2008, 9:12

    Great news! I hope they dedicate more time to it consistanly than the Beeb currently do to Moto GP. You can only access Moto GP sometimes via the "red button" and they never really schedule it on for prime time, or it is hidden away in BBC3 scheduling and I don’t want to go head to head with 2 pints of larger and a packet of whatever!

    I am going to dig out Fleetwood Mac!

  15. Christopher said on 20th March 2008, 9:40


    Alex Andronov summed it up nicely.

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