MP demands answers over BBC/Sky F1 deal

Television

Mark Webber, Jake Humphrey, Monaco, 2011

The BBC's Jake Humphrey interviews Mark Webber in Monaco

A Liberal Democrat MP has written to Bernie Ecclestone and BBC director general Mark Thompson seeking an explanation for the controversial 2012 broadcasting deal that was struck with Sky.

In his letter to Ecclestone, Don Foster MP said: “I am concerned about the apparently divergent views of FOM and the BBC about the sequence of events.

“You have said that keeping F1 on free to air was a major priority [...] I highlight this point because it directly contradicts the BBC’s own account of what happened.”

Foster added: “I am alarmed that there is such a gulf between your stories.

“This deal has led to disappointment and anger among F1 fans and now they have to sift through completely contradictory accounts of who decided what. The least fans deserve is a clear explanation of what has happened. I urge you to give it.

“I am not complaining about the realities of the BBC, BSkyB and FOM having their own interests. Nor do I doubt that those involved in this arrangement worked hard to balance their competing aims.

“But I am deeply concerned at the claim that the BBC facilitated this result, and believe the parties in these negotiations must clarify the glaring discrepancies in their accounts of what happened.

“More generally, I am disappointed that F1 fans in the UK did not have a loud voice speaking up for their interests.”

According to the Daily Mirror, the Commons? Culture, Media and Sport select committee will question Thompson and other BBC executives over claims they blocked rival free-to-air broadcasters from picking up the F1 rights.

A petition against the deal has attracted 24,000 signatures so far.

Meanwhile the BBC has not confirmed reports it will screen its ten non-live races in full, but delayed, on its Red Button channel in 2012.

Read Foster’s letters to Ecclestone and Thompson here and here.

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109 comments on MP demands answers over BBC/Sky F1 deal

  1. daykind said on 2nd September 2011, 16:01

    A Liberal Democrat, criticising someone for changing their mind? Hypocritical…

    But anyway, good to see that some form of governement is concerned aqbout the issue.

  2. Adrian J (@adrian-j) said on 2nd September 2011, 16:26

    My concern with the full race on red button idea is that I can’t receive red button content on my TV as the digital signal where I live is rubbish. (I only sometimes get audio on BBC2…) That and even if I could receive it, I can’t record it so it’s still no use as I’m rarely home on a Sunday afternoon in the summer.

    If, however, they make the full race available on iPlayer later in the day…that will be fine with me.

  3. Our Nige said on 2nd September 2011, 16:42

    The year is 2021
    F1 in UK is a little (comparatively) watched sport and the British GP, starved of the spectators which once flocked to the GP weekend, will be gone because it was lumbered with a 17 year deal brokered by the late Bernie with increases inh fee every year – what was once seen as a great deal for the circuit which “saved” the Briitish GP is now seen as a noose round its neck which it hung itself on.

    Europe has 3 races, Monaco, Monza and one other which goes to whichever track that year can afford the European GP, with the circuits now in Middle and Far East as formaula one prostitutes itself to the highest bidder, with little thought to history or spectator numbers.

    Frankly, having watched F1 for 25 years I can feel myself already drifting away from the sport I love as it moves its way towards Sky TV – pay to watch a sport which business model is based on advertising to the largest number of people – no thanks. Thanks Bernie and the incompentent BBC bosses who brokered a piss poor deal, but your greed has lost me….

  4. Jack Holt said on 2nd September 2011, 18:05

    Good man, let’s hope we get some answers. I wrote to FOM about this issue but got no reply, these people are only interested in the few more bucks the deal delivers and frankly I’m disgusted. I’ve been an F1 fanatic for very many years, but I honestly don’t know whether I’ll be watching any of the season next year. F1 has always taken up far more weekends than I’d like and I find the attitude of those running to sport quite revolting. I’m getting on a bit now, perhaps it’s time to do something more productive.

  5. Dave_F1 said on 2nd September 2011, 20:17

    Purely from a selfish point of view as someone that has Sky & Sky Sports, Im actually looking really forward to F1 on Sky.
    Why? because I believe they will provide much better coverage on than we have on the BBC now & what we likely would have got on ITV/C4/C5.

    With the brief description Sky have already given in the initial annoucement it sounds as if were going to get more in-depth coverage across the full Sky sports platform & it also sounds (Based on autosport magazine) like we will get the full support package shown live & in full (Something EuroSport currently regularly fails at).

    Obviously this deal sucks for those without Sky but as I said purely from the selfish POV of someone with Sky I think the coverage is going to be great.

  6. Mahone said on 2nd September 2011, 22:16

    Just want to add to those saying other countries like Canada and Portugal get even worse coverage and saying that we shouldn’t complain but does Portugal or Canada have over 50% of the teams based in their country? Or several home drivers inlcuding 2 world champions? And even a track? Or the racing heritage in Britian?

    Just a joke should goto another channel or back to BBC as they did do a good job! Also as they said half is pointless as you still have to pay full sky price to be able to watch them all so you may aswell just watch all the races on sky And it may aswell be all on sky.

    Also bernie or someone said this way they will get more heads watching f1 next year, I think not!

  7. Dave_F1

    sky will not be given the same access to teams/drivers pits etc as the bbc gets. people trust the bbc. people dont trust sky or its owners.

    can I also point out that this has been reported in the daily mail and planet F1 and here but there has been no actual statement/confirmation about it from the bbc. i have no problem with watching the full race on the red button a few hours later but will there be build up to the race and post race interviews etc etc because I still dont understand how it will work. will we hear sky commentators or bbc commentators? and will sky allow the bbc to show sky build up?? its all too complecated

    • Dave_F1 said on 2nd September 2011, 23:58

      But Sky Germany is also owned by the Murdoch’s & they get the same access to teams etc… that the BBC gets.
      Sky Italy was the same when they had F1 coverage (Speculation they will be getting the coverage back next year).

      There is no reason why Sky would not have the same access as the BBC do.

  8. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 3rd September 2011, 2:57

    I really appritiate the work of those 24000 die hard F1 fans.

  9. At first I thought this would be really bad for F1. However looking at how skysports channel in Germany does things, this might turn out to be a blessing in disguise with much better and interactive coverage.
    German sky offers the FOM feed, onboard channels, a highlights feed, live timing and driver tracker, all just a button push away.
    If this new sky deal means Brits can get that sort of coverage, imo it will be well worth paying for and will be a step up on the BBC coverage (mind you the comm team will likely stay largely the same too)
    However if Sky will have the same amount of coverage the BBC has now (no onboards,..) then it won’t be worth it.
    F1 fans need better coverage, more than just the FOM feed being shoved down our throats, and this sky deal might just deliver.

    • StefMeister said on 3rd September 2011, 12:37

      BBC currently do have the OnBoard Channel & Driver Tracker behind the red button during the race.
      They have had the OnBoard channel since they started broadcasting F1 again in 2009.

      BBC coverage is actually pretty close to what Sky Germany offer.
      Only things BBC don’t offer which Sky Germany do is the 2nd OnBoard channel (For German Drivers Which Sky Germany mix themselfs using the 9 OnBoard feeds FOM have avaliable at any one time) & the official live timing screen as used by teams & thats because the BBC don’t have the rights to show it. They also don’t show the rolling Highlights anymore although this is something the BBC used to do untill they brought in the driver tracker Mid-2010.

  10. bsnaylor (@bsnaylor) said on 3rd September 2011, 11:05

    I find the whole deal with this appalling. The lies from Bernie (hardly unexpected as he always talks **** and lies to tv) are just unacceptable. He should not be allowed to be in “control” of a sport like F1. Regardless of him being a mogul, he represents huge amounts of businesses that plough hundreds of millions of pounds into F1. I am ashamed at seeing how this has been allowed to get to this situation. It really is a crying shame.

  11. Paul A (@paul-a) said on 3rd September 2011, 14:26

    If I’ve missed it, apologies … but have Sky announced who they will use as commentators? [There's apparently a remote possibility we might get a Sky feed in Canada.]

    • bsnaylor (@bsnaylor) said on 3rd September 2011, 14:45

      Not that i’ve seen. although Martin Brundle has said on twitter that he hasn’t signed up for the bbc or sky for next year.

      “No I haven’t signed with BBC, they know exactly how I feel about diluting F1 show. Just think BBC is one of best things our small island has”

      “No I haven’t signed for Sky either. Act in haste, repent at leisure as they say. Relax team, first 2012 race is March. Still 7 more in 2011″

  12. Dave Deacon said on 3rd September 2011, 16:42

    Given the current stench surrounding Murdoch’s business dealings, you’d think that they would have gone anywhere but Murdoch… So, why did they shun C4/C5 and force people who are loyal fans of F1 to have to pay Murdoch a fortune? They are funded by the public for the public’s good entertainment. That’s their remit. They have it seems have acted as a private compnay would… The deal should be nulled and a new one struck with C4/C5 along with those who struck it being sacked as incompetent.

    This whole affair looks like Murdoch’s dirty fingers have corrupted the entire establishment.

  13. Dave_F1 said on 3rd September 2011, 16:58

    “The deal should be nulled and a new one struck with C4/C5″

    And what if any deal with C4/C5 ends up with a lower quality of coverage than what we get on the BBC & what we likely will on Sky?

    Would people accept F1 on C4/C5 if there coverage included less build-up, less analysis, Commercial breaks & no interactive extras? I certainly woudn’t, Id be more againt that than I am it going to Sky.
    Something worth considering is that neither C4 or C5 have any form of interactive video platform so we would lose the interactive extras we currently get on the BBC & will no doubt get on sky.

  14. Dave Deacon said on 3rd September 2011, 20:31

    @Dave_F1 The deal presently seems likely to be that unless you pay wads of loot to Murdoch you only get half the races. For many that might aswell be zero races. I’d rather have all the races even if the service was not as good as the BBC’s. I can live with standard res and iffy commentary half the time. Indeed, who’s to say that Sky will provide a good service anyway? My guess is that C4/C5 would do an ITV style thing. I survived and enjoyed F1 under ITV. Indeed, people now like James Allen… :) Really it’s all ifs and buts. If the BBC offers full delayed coverage of the Murdoch half then I guess I can live with that. But I will NOT give my money to Murdoch. No F1 Way!

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