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. I’ll be singing to myself all afternoon now! :-D
    Excellent news.

    Thanks, AndyWolf – I’ve got a lovely picture in my head of Stig doing a grid walk… it would make a change from the drivers refusing to speak to Martin!

  2. I’m with AndyWolf – what about the whole presentation from the Top Gear team? Alternatively as a challenge they could enter as the 12th team if Prodrive don’t materialise

  3. Is it possible that the BBC will just get the existing production company to make the new program? As was Chrysalis or whatever?

  4. really wish we could get the BBC here in the states…. well ok, we do have BBC America, but it’s about 6-8 months behind… that’s a bit of a tape delay.

    I couldn’t imagine being able to watch F1 without adverts.  At least speed is pretty good about it though… they have definitely put off adverts whenever anything seems to be going on.

  5. will the BBC be following ITV in showing everything on the internet?

  6. If you want Brundle, you can use this page to contact the BBC TV motorsport team

    Just make sure you select the motor sport on TV option and type away, I dunno, maybe also tell them we don’t want James Allen

  7. Interesting comments on the BBC Sport Editor’s blog.

    Comments seem to be:
    1. Bring back ‘The Chain’
    2. Keep Brundle
    3. Murray?
    4. No James Allen
    5. HD?

    All in all, very positive, though there are a couple of strange/negative posts.

  8. Those (indeed strange) negative posts seem to be from people who simply have no knowledge of the sport – those who complain about their license fee and / or think that F1 is about ‘going round in circles’ (I feel dirty just for saying it!!).

    So who is everyone putting their money on for the spot alongside Martin Brundle in the commentary box (assuming, and hoping, that James Allen doesn’t get it)?

    Personally I wouldn’t mean listening to the infectious enthusiasm of Ben Edwards….

  9. This is great news! No more advert breaks! But BBC needs to get it right, and that means:

    – Get Martin Brundle into the commentators box!
    – Get Steve Rider and Maurice Hamilton into the studio (maybe Ted Kravitz at the paddock too…)
    – All races and quali sessions must be live
    – Bring "The Chain" back! :-)
    – …And please, please, please don’t shift the eariler or later races onto your digital channels…some people don’t have access to digital, you know?!

  10. "BBC should be concentrating on beautiful team sports like football, rugby leauge and cricket…"

    Excuse me, but what the hell is that?
    Having at least 100+ people working together to put the car onto the track to win a race, that’s more teamwork than football could ever be…

    I agree with Cooperman on this point.

  11. Excellent news… I have seen some ITV coverage in past. Camerawork is not exceptional. Commentary was the weakest link in the chain. So however it has come to it, it is good.

    Now as beeb is publicly owned, some of their videos are free for public to copy and keep… will it be legal for us people to record and keep whole season???

    I think this should give bernie enough nightmares, would it?

  12. I must be the only person in the world who has an immunity to James Allen. What is so bad about him? Sure, Murray had enthusiasm and a knowledge of history, but he was always commenting on a completely different race than the one we were watching!

  13. Not everyone seems to be happy about it:
    Politicians are getting involved now!

  14. No one mentioned Louise Goodman! :(

    +1 Brundle
    +1 Kravitz

    – 1 Blundell
    -1 Allen

    What about other retired drivers as a commentator along side Brundle? Irvine? Coulthard, when he retires! actually, my vote goes to.. Barrichello

  15. What is this politician sticking his oar in for – I thought the BBC was independent – not censored by the government – he should move to Iran or China.

  16. Can someone explain Brundle… god, NOOOO….
    F1 needs some new blood in the commentary box. Someone who can get excited, someone who can read the race….

    I just want to know why Brundle?

    Definitely no Louise, no Blundell, no Ryder and no Allen, oh and no Ted either… they get redundancy pay?

  17. Thank you BBC – I’d start from scratch with the commentary team (apart from Brundle of course). ITV’s coverage gives the impression that none of the guys know what they’re talking about (especially Ted Kravitz).

  18. Sorry Arnet – can’t see your point of view on James Allen.

    Murray may have got the wrong end of the stick sometimes but there’s no-one better in the commentary box for conveying an undying love and enthusiasm for any sport. Listening to him on Radio 5 last summer (could have been the summer before) brought it all back!

    And if nothing else he certainly livened up the occasional dull race.

    James Allen simply can’t get me sat on the edge of my seat with excitement like Murray used to, without fail.

  19. It’s just occured to me – Jeremy Clarkson as host of the BBC’s F1 coverage. Love him or hate him, just imagine it.

  20. Clarkson is good in Top Gear, but I think he’d be too noisy for F1.  :)

    And yes, KEEP BRUNDLE!  Croft would make a wonderful partner, I think.  But they should keep Allen, albeit in a writing, NON-SPEAKING role.  :)

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