McLaren Whitmarsh, McLaren, 2011

??It?s crucial F1 coverage remains free-to-air?? ?ǣ Whitmarsh

2011 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

McLaren Whitmarsh, McLaren, 2011
McLaren Whitmarsh, McLaren, 2011

McLaren team principal and Formula 1 Teams’ Association president Martin Whitmarsh has said F1 coverage must remain on free-to-air television channels.

Yesterday The Sunday Times claimed the BBC will drop its F1 coverage after 2013.

Whitmarsh said: “Formula 1 insiders have been surprised by the recent newspaper reports, since they contain significant statistical inaccuracies.

“The reality is that the Formula 1 viewing figures in the UK are high and getting higher.

“In terms of average viewership, peak viewership and average share of viewership – the three key indices for TV executives – more people are watching Formula 1 this year than last year or indeed than in recent previous years.

“For example, the average share of viewership for the BBC’s coverage of the recent Chinese Grand Prix, which Vodafone McLaren Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton won, was more than 50%.

“In other words, as many people were watching Formula 1 in the UK that Sunday morning as were watching every other channel combined – including all terrestrial channels and all satellite channels – a staggeringly impressive statistic. And the TV viewing figures for other recent Grands Prix have been massively impressive too.

“It’s crucial to the commercial model of Formula 1 that TV coverage should remain free-to-air, and therefore universally accessible, and therefore widely consumed and enjoyed by large numbers of viewers – and the BBC delivers that in the UK”.

Whitmarsh praised the BBC’s coverage of F1, saying:

“Moreover, besides the quantity of viewership, the quality of the BBC’s coverage is consistently high too – which is just as important. Also important is the demographic data – which shows that F1 is now attracting an increasing number of younger and female viewers, which is also very positive.

“Formula 1 is the pinnacle of world motorsport – always has been, always will be. As such, it’s appropriate that the BBC should continue to cover it.

“I think it would be very sad, and most unwise, if the BBC were to disappoint so many millions of British sports fans by axing it, and that’s why I don’t believe for a moment that they’d seriously consider doing such a thing.”

Image ?? McLaren

115 comments on “??It?s crucial F1 coverage remains free-to-air?? ?ǣ Whitmarsh”

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  1. ZeDestructor
    20th June 2011, 12:44

    It would be nice if it were FTA without ads around the world. With an official non-regionlocked livestream. Some of us can’t exactly afford a TV you know?

    1. ZeDestructor
      20th June 2011, 12:52

      And yet we pay the TV license fee. And if the FIA can for GT1/*LMS, I don’t see why F1 can’t.

  2. maxthecat12
    20th June 2011, 12:50

    ON a side note, most TV stations with adverts in other countries keep the race in a mini screen whilst the ad’s play, something i always thought ITV should’ve done. It’s not a new idea, i used to watch F1 in bars around the south of France in the late 80’s and they always kept the race feed on screen even during ad’s.

    1. Not Speed or Fox in USA.

  3. Truth be told, I didn’t start watching F1 until the BBC got hold of it in 2009. ITV always used to annoy me. I didn’t follow the sport but I know the quality really had nothing on that of the BBC’s now.

    That said, I would of course do my best to watch it if it did change channel and I already subscribe to premium sports channels so it doesn’t affect me as much. However, it should stay on the BBC at the very least.

    It’s about all I pay my TV License for! ;)

  4. But the BBC is not “free-to-air”. It costs £142.50.

    Even if you don’t want to watch it…

    1. You mean “Even if you don’t want to watch it but you want to watch something else” – it is a licence for the use of a television, not a licence for the use of the BBC.

      We get this particular piece of nit-picking every time this discussion comes up. If you class BBC as not free-to-air then, by that definition, there is no free-to-air television in Britain. But realistically, because the vast majority of people have TV licences it is to all intents and purposes free-to-air.

      Quibble about it if you like but that’s the way it is. Better, I think, to concentrate on the substance of the discussion than get hung up splitting hairs.

      1. No, I don’t mean that.

        Where does the licence fee go?

        Straight to the BBC.

        But you are right in that nothing is free-to-air, it costs quite a lot to run a TV station, they need income from somewhere. Whether it’s adverts, subscriptions, or a gun against my head forcing me to pay for something I have no interest in.

        1. What matters from the point of view of this debate is what it means if F1 is not broadcast on a channel which is to all intents and purposes free-to-air, such as BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and similar channels, or a subscription service such as Sky, ESPN or whatever.

          If (as seems to be the case) you want to have a debate over the merits of the TV licence I encourage you post it in the off-topic section of the forum and not here.

      2. I have to add that in france too, we pay a fee. I believe that it is lower than in Britain, but then again, France Televisions is bad (cr*p). And obviously, although we feel that our money just feeds FR2 and FR3, it is legally allowing us to watch all other private owned free to air channels. So I agree with Keith here : it is unfair to say that BBC costs you your fee. Owing a TV does.

        1. So I agree with Keith here : it is unfair to say that BBC costs you your fee.

          It’s not a question of being “fair” or not, nothing in life is. “Fair” is simply a weasel word of political scum when they’re telling you what to do.

          The TV licence is a forced subscription to the BBC, simple.

          Apologies to Keith for replying again.

  5. It’s not free-to-air in Africa… but F1 is ever popular down here. Maybe blockbuster drivers should overcome the pay-tv hurdle, eventually if it was free-to-air the sport should be even bigger in Africa but as far as I know (at least in Southern African countries) you only see it if you pay. (And we get BBC comentators)

  6. In Portugal, we have to pay to see F1. We pay, cable more 25€ to a premium channel called Sporttv, that broadcast F1. I have this channel and most of all, I prefer to download the BBC broadcast to see. Conclusion, We pay, but don’t get better service that a public channel like BBC. As result of “pay to see”, you saw a lot of people that lose the interest in F1…

    1. and that is the best example. My friend Miguel is from Portugal where they use to have the same financial probs with Greece. Going private doesn’t necessarily mean it’s for the better. Check my post below. Cheers from Greece!

  7. I believe a point should be made about the number of people who tune in to watch the race on BBC which are not UK citizens (through streams etc..). I’d prefer to pay to have a BBC stream on my computer/tv than to watch F1 on a local (also payed here in Portugal) channel.

  8. It’s so simple, all for the money all around this bloody world. I can’t believe that they even talk about it. Formula One is for the masses and not for those who have the privilege of possessing more money. These days are crucial for the entire economic system & its administration in all aspects. Be careful mateys, they want to sell everybody these days. I know what i’m talking about. I’m from f#ckin’ Greece & I know what’s going on these days better than you (oops, sorry!). And this ain’t a “propaganda” thing, it’s the one & only truth. Take care, listen carefully, open your mind & enjoy F1. All best . Nikos.


    Sign the petition here to save F1 from the monopoly of Sky Sports.

    But also as good a time as any to bring back all sports to regular TV – BOYCOTT SKY SPORTS AND CURE THE DISEASE THAT IS RUINING OUR SPORTING HERITAGE.

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