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

  1. D Winn said on 20th March 2008, 10:06

    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 ?

  2. D Winn said on 20th March 2008, 10:09

    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

  3. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 20th March 2008, 10:12

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

  4. D Winn said on 20th March 2008, 10:19

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

  5. D Winn said on 20th March 2008, 10:26

    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.

  6. Fantastic news.  I’m sure Brundle will move across – he’s an independent contractor I believe.  Not sure if James Allen is as well – let’s hope not. 

    I should imagine Steve Rider will move across as well as he worked for the BBC for a long time and I think he has done pretty well fronting ITVs coverage (certainly light years ahead of Rosenthal) and he is a true F1 fan. 

    Hopefully the BBC can find someone good to replace James Allen – anyone would be an improvement.

    Very good timing on the BBC’s part, as they are likely to be taking over just after Hamilton wins his first championship…

  7. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 20th March 2008, 10:37

    So who do we think is responsible? Has Bernie decided he’s unhappy with ITV’s standard of coverage and pushed them out? Or have ITV decided F1 isn’t making them enough money and bailed?

  8. sChUmAcHeRtHeGrEaTeStEvEr said on 20th March 2008, 10:48

    i dont mean get rid of brundle i mean itl be great if brundle goes to the bbc too! whats the original theme music?

  9. sChUmAcHeRtHeGrEaTeStEvEr said on 20th March 2008, 10:54

    can someone put a link for the original theme music for me i only started watching f1 properly in 97 when itv had just taken it over and i was only 9 then!


  10. D Winn said on 20th March 2008, 10:57

    It’s Fleetwood Mac – The Chain

  11. sChUmAcHeRtHeGrEaTeStEvEr said on 20th March 2008, 11:01

    ok thankyou

  12. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 20th March 2008, 11:03

    Here it is along with the four themes ITV have used:

    Debate: The best ITV F1 theme tune

  13. D Winn said on 20th March 2008, 11:03

    I’m playing it now to get me in the mood :)
    The theme is about the last minute of the track

    I think the beeb should start with a whole new team. Def not Hill! Leave Brundle too!

    The radio team are good!
    I hope they can provide some unbiased commentary! Yee haa
    Music to my ears

  15. TommyB said on 20th March 2008, 11:23

    Strange how ITV went all out on their new f1 website only to announce they werent going to show f1 from next year :S Hopefully they will keep Martin and get rid of James but I’m just so happy we won’t miss any of the on track action in 2009 :)

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