ITV loses F1 coverage to BBC from 2009

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

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

94 comments on “ITV loses F1 coverage to BBC from 2009”

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

  2. 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. I support both those ideas :-)

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

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

  13. 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
    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
    20th March 2008, 9:40


    Alex Andronov summed it up nicely.

  16. From the BBC site :
    Dominic Coles, BBC Sport director of sport rights, said: "The biggest motorsporting event in the world is returning home after 12 years.

    "We were delighted when Bernie Ecclestone approached us about the return of F1 to the BBC.
    An ITV statement on Thursday said: "ITV plc today confirmed that it has decided to exit Formula One at the end of this season.

    "This was a straightforward commercial decision for ITV and we are pleased that F1 will continue to be broadcast free-to-air.
    So did they jump or were they pushed ?

  17. On other sites it is suggested that this is all linked to a deal over the rights to the soccer Champions League.
    Which BBC and ITV have been fighting over

  18. I don’t know much about football – can anyone tell me more?

  19. @Kieth
    Sky have the broadcast rights to most football, so BBC and ITV are squabbling over the scraps, which includes the European Champions League series

  20. Well it didn’t take long for the rumours to start –
    David Croft from Radio 5 Live to be a ‘shoo in’ for James Allen.
    Jonathan Ledgard to be a commentator.
    Martin Brundle to be the only one retained.

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