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

2011 F1 season

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.”

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

  1. McLarenFanJamm said on 20th June 2011, 11:20

    The problem with the UK and the BBC is that everyone expects the BBC to broadcast everything and if they decide to axe something there is always voicerous support to keep it broadcasting.

    The BBC 6 radio station for example. I don’t listen to it, I’ve tried it and didn’t like it. I wouldn’t be bothered to see it axed to save money but thousands of people protested and it was kept broadcasting. The same will happen if the BBC decide to axe the BBC3 or BBC4 tv channels. People complain every year when the TV licence goes up, but they refuse to let the BBC cut anything to save themselves costs.

    Personally, I wish the BBC would broadcast a dedicated Sports channel but they don’t have enough sport to justify it. That way, there wouldn’t have been 700 complaints from grannies that Antiques Roadshow had been cancelled because of the Canadian GP. Practice/the post-race forum wouldn’t have to be on the red button so you could watch the whole weekend in HD. They could even broadcast MoTD, The football league show, late kick-off, live football, international rugby, Wimbledon, other tennis coverage they only show on red button etc, etc. It’ll never happen though. Maybe I should protest?

  2. Nic said on 20th June 2011, 11:21

    I have to say the BBC will shoot itself in the foot if it stops covering the F1. Until recently we never had a TV and got one purely for F1 coming back to the BBC – and we haven’t been dissapointed! If they get rid of the F1 – even if it stays free to air but goes back to the appauling coverage that ITV had I will be ditching my TV and TV licence again.. I have many friends that feel the same.. If F1 went to paid TV then the UK would have to sort out a way for me to have paid TV without the BBC channels as there’s no way I’m paying for the F1 and still having to fork out a BBC licence fee that I don’t use.
    Grumbles over..

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 20th June 2011, 11:35

      I have to say the BBC will shoot itself in the foot if it stops covering the F1.

      I have to say that I’m still having difficulties understanding why people believe that the BBC are going to pull out based on a story that was so inaccurate that, at the very least, its validity has to be questioned.

      • McLarenFanJamm said on 20th June 2011, 12:08

        If F1 went to paid TV then the UK would have to sort out a way for me to have paid TV without the BBC channels as there’s no way I’m paying for the F1 and still having to fork out a BBC licence fee that I don’t use

        You realise that you HAVE to have a TV license if you own a TV. Regardless of whether you watch the BBC or not.

        • Nic said on 20th June 2011, 12:26

          I am very aware of that and that was my point… but in this digital age I don’t see why that has to be the case. Maybe it’s time for people to rethink the licence fee completely and allow an opt out for those that have no interest in watching BBC channels. It would allow the BBC to cater to the people that actually watch the majority of shows and allow everyone else to watch programs made by other broadcasters without funding the BBC. I have no issue paying the equivelent of the licence fee for an equivelent high quality of coverage on payperview but not while we are still living in the age of forcing people to fund the BBC. But that is digressing from the argument of F1.

          • Tango said on 20th June 2011, 12:41

            Well you can also look at it like social security : because you are healthy today and don’t need any treatment doesn’t mean you won’t pay your part in keeping helth standards up. You never know when you’re going to be stuck indoors during a grand prix week end :D

  3. maxthecat12 said on 20th June 2011, 11:36

    It seems to me the only people to make anything out of F1 is the Commercial rights holder. Tracks struggle, TV stations struggle and non established teams struggle, until that is fixed F1 will always be a frivolous investment for TV companies.

  4. LingSJ said on 20th June 2011, 11:58

    This year, we have F1 on pay-channels in Malaysia which is only available by some of the Malaysian,but majority don’t have pay-channels at home. For those who don’t have these channels, they are dying for F1. Honestly, i have not been watching F1 for half of the year already (just because we don’t have F1 on free-to-air channel after a decade enjoying it..)

  5. Ben Bailey said on 20th June 2011, 12:01

    If F1 is son keen to remain free to air on the BBC then they need to not fleece the cooperation of £235 million to renew its contract and start appreciating its that without the BBC its viewing figures and therefor value will go down!
    I will not watch F1 on sky or any pay to view and will be gutted if we once again resort to having to watch adverts instead of action!

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 20th June 2011, 12:31

      I will not watch F1 on sky or any pay to view and will be gutted if we once again resort to having to watch adverts instead of action!

      Oh, boo-hoo. Spare a thought for the rest of the world, most of whom have to watch the adverts regardless.

  6. ZeDestructor said on 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?

    • ZeDestructor said on 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.

  7. maxthecat12 said on 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.

  8. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 20th June 2011, 13:46

    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! ;)

  9. Andrew said on 20th June 2011, 14:24

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

    Even if you don’t want to watch it…

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 20th June 2011, 14:32

      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.

      • Andrew said on 20th June 2011, 14:52

        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.

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 20th June 2011, 15:11

          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.

      • Tango said on 20th June 2011, 16:54

        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.

        • Andrew said on 20th June 2011, 19:22

          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.

  10. JCost (@jcost) said on 20th June 2011, 16:56

    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)

  11. 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…

    • Nikos said on 21st June 2011, 23:23

      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!

  12. Rui said on 21st June 2011, 12:29

    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.

  13. Nikos said on 21st June 2011, 23:18

    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.

  14. Andrew said on 31st July 2011, 15:55

    http://www.formula1onbbc.com/

    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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