BBC F1 plans announced today (updated: full details below)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Melbourne will be the first BBC F1 broadcast for 13 years
Melbourne will be the first BBC F1 broadcast for 13 years

The details of BBC?s F1 coverage this year are due to be announced in a press conference today.

We already know a lot about their TV plans for 2009. Today I expect some big announcements about their online coverage.

What we already know

Commentators

Jonathan Legard (former BBC F1 radio commentator) will be joined by former ITV man Martin Brundle in the commentary booth. Ted Kravitz and Lee McKenzie will supply added commentary from the pits.

Keep an eye on McKenzie’s Twitter profile as she’s planning to drop some early hints about the coverage on there this morning.

Studio coverage will be presented by Jake Humphrey with David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan.

Coverage

The early race coverage details seen last week indicate that not only will the races and qualifying be shown live, but the practice sessions as well. However it?s not clear if the Saturday practice will be shown (ITV missed it last year) and if it will just be confined to ??red button? coverage.

They also promise ??interactive forums?? during the race which are likely to take the same form as those used during football matches, where BBC?s live text reports include comments from people watching the game.

So why the press conference?

People usually call press conferences when they?ve got something to announce. But we already know a lot about what the BBC?s got planned for next year, which leads me to suspect they?ve got something big up their sleeves. What could it be?

We?ve had signals in recent weeks that the powers-that-be in Formula 1 have finally woken up to the existence of the internet. Max Mosley wants F1?s online coverage to improve, and FOTA will discuss it in their future F1 plans press conference next week.

Bernie Ecclestone, whose suspicion and hostility towards the internet (the ??ether?, as he calls it) is well known, recently said it was the responsibility of television companies to cater for internet broadcasting.

The BBC has at least 19 years? worth of archived ??Grand Prix?? programmes, covering most of the races from 1978 to 1996. Many F1 fans would love to be able to watch this material online legally ?ǣ just look how popular such material is on Youtube and torrent sites.

At the moment the BBC can?t make use of that material because FOCA owns the copyright on it. Has Ecclestone lifted that restriction to allow BBC to use the material on their websites? Perhaps ?ǣ a few months ago a video from the 1993 European Grand Prix at Donington Park appeared on BBC Sport.

Three years ago Ashley Highfield, then the head of BBC?s Future Media and Technology Division, indicated this was a strategy BBC wished to pursue:

We?ve got one of the world?s largest archives, if not the largest archive. And yet, because we?ve got so few channels ?ǣ routes to our audience ?ǣ inevitably 99.9% of that content stays on the shelves. We ought to liberate it and make it available, how, when and where our audience would like to consumer it.

I expect much of tomorrow?s announcement to focus on how the BBC will cover F1 online.

And they might mention something about a certain song from Fleetwood Mac’s record-selling album, “Rumours”.

Share your thoughts on what the BBC is going to announce and post updates from the press conference below.

More on BBC’s 2009 F1 coverage