Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Melbourne, 2012

Ecclestone: F1 may abandon free-to-air TV in UK

F1 Fanatic round-upPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Melbourne, 2012In the round-up: Bernie Ecclestone indicates F1 coverage in the UK could leave the BBC entirely.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Bernie Ecclestone suggests free-to-air Formula One could end on BBC (The Guardian)

Bernie Ecclestone: “We will never move all countries to pay?per?view only though it wouldn’t make any difference here in the UK. Sky reaches over 10m. We don’t get 10m on the BBC, normally about 6m or 7m.”

Murdoch’s Italy TV arm buys F1 rights (Reuters)

Bernie Ecclestone: “We have worked with Sky Italia in the past and I have no doubts about their production standards. We have a similar agreement in Britain that is working very well.”

Sky to have exclusive F1 live broadcast rights? (F1 Kate Walker)

“I’ve been told that Sky’s commitment to broadcast the races free from commercial interruption is a one-year thing, and that fans can expect ad breaks from 2013 onwards. But I’ve not been told that by anyone from Sky, so make of it what you will…”

No hurry for Hamilton (Sky)

“The championship is more important than what I plan to do, what my next contract will be. My future at the moment is not important – I might not even see next year! What’s important is making sure I capitalise and maximise on this year.”

Jonathan Neale Q&A: McLaren can win in Montreal (F1)

“I wouldn?t put the last two or three races into a professional like Lewis?s mind in terms of where he?s going to be comfortable in the future. We would like Lewis to continue racing for us. We have plenty of time. We don?t need to make that decision until much later this year.”

Bahar dismissed as Group Lotus boss (Autocar)

“A statement issued today said the decision was made by the board of Group Lotus plc following the results of an investigation into a complaint made against Bahar by the company’s owner, DRB-Hicom.”

Grosjean downplays first lap accidents (Autosport)

“It doesn’t mean anything. In Australia I couldn’t do much [with Pastor Maldonado], in Malaysia it was my mistake [with Michael Schumacher], I spun in the wet. And in Monaco what can you do? Trying to put a scooter and a bus into Sainte Devote together is difficult, so four cars side by side is too tight.”

2012 Canadian GP – Conference 1 (FIA)

Sergio Perez: “The only weekend we didn?t have the speed was in Bahrain. We had a lot of degradation. All the other weekends, Barcelona I was in fourth place but then I had a puncture; Monaco in qualifying we had the speed to fight for a win, I think, but then we had a problem with the steering wheel and I just went straight. I think the speed is there and everything is there and it?s just a matter of luck. We have been very unlucky in the last few races.”

Villeneuve slams standards in Formula One, calling today’s drivers ‘babies’ (Daily Mail)

“There is no respect amongst them. I think, 20 or 30 years ago, the risk of dying was high and there was that extra respect. They weren?t little daddy?s boys like now. They are still babies.”

Montreal’s Grand Prix kicks off under protest threat (CBC News)

“Michel D’Avignon, who organizes the downtown Peel Paddock event, said he has quadrupled security in light of the potential protests.”

Montreal police make arrests ahead of Grand Prix (CTV News)

“One day before Montreal comes alive with the sound of revving engines and cheering fans during the Grand Prix, police carried out a series of raids targeting 11 key suspects believed to have been involved in vandalism.”

Paul Pietsch 1911-2012 (Adam Cooper)

“Paul Pietsch ?ǣ the last surviving driver of the pre-war Silver Arrows era ?ǣ has died just a few weeks short of his 101st birthday.”

Susie Wolff explains why there aren’t more women in F1 (BBC)

“Wolff, who races in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) and signed for Williams earlier this year, believes there will be a female F1 driver ‘within the next decade’.”

F1 Fanatic via Twitter

“F1 Fanatic should hit a major milestone tomorrow. Keep an eye out for a special article to mark it…”

Comment of the day

Mark Webber’s plain-spoken style appealed to several readers, including Timi:

I love how he?s so frank. I wish every driver would just tell it how they see things.

From the forum

Happy birthday!

No F1 Fanatic birthdays today.

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is by emailling me, using Twitter or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

Juan Manuel Fangio was badly injured in a crash at Monza on this day in 1952.

The reigning world champion had driven to the track overnight from Lyon, having flown there from Northern Ireland where he had been racing the day before.

Exhausted, he started the race from the back of the grid having not participated in practice. Nonetheless he passed 15 of his rivals in the first two laps.

On lap three Fangio lost control of his car in the second Lesmo corner and hit a straw bale. He was thrown from the cockpit of his Maserati and suffered neck and spinal injuries that kept him out of racing for the rest of the season.

Image ?? Red Bull/Getty images

169 comments on “Ecclestone: F1 may abandon free-to-air TV in UK”

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  1. Seriously BBC, why can’t I see an interview with Susie Wolff from Australia? Is someone else really going to pay you guys a lot of money for the rights to that interview?

      1. Thanks! Very much appreciated. :)

        I was interested in what she had to say about her own personality and how that doesn’t fit with the perceptions we might usually have of women in motorsport.

        It was an interesting interview. I most agree with what she said near the end. We shouldn’t generalise. Generalising just leads to discounting individuals whose actual merits are strong.

        Of course on such a topic it is difficult not to generalise, and it is necessary to an extent for discussion. There were some stereotypes used though, and stereotypes are never useful. By saying that women can take criticism better and men are more aggressive we create problems for when these things aren’t true. Even when these things are positives in one instance they are negatives in another. If you say I want an aggressive driver, so I’ll go with a man, then you’ve got a problem because you might select a man who is not aggressive and pass up a woman who is.

        I was also interested to see the women are better multi-taskers theory used. I’ve trawled through the scientific literature and there is only one (fairly recent) paper that makes that conclusion, but its methodology is fundamentally flawed. My own hypothesis on where this idea comes from is that getting someone to do all your odd jobs for you frees you to concentrate on one thing. If you tell someone they are a good multi-tasker then they feel good about doing those odd jobs for you. For a long time our society has been male dominated, and the men have taken to the tasks they want to concentrate on. I think we’ve developed the idea that women are better multi-taskers as a rationalisation for them doing all the odd tasks.

        1. Your welcome @dvc!
          I liked what she is saying as well. The interview shows she really knows why she is there and what she wants as a professional (and a female).

  2. Foreigners willing to pay £145.50 licence fee for BBC’s superb F1 coverage.

    Denied. :(

  3. well all u whiners about tv. joe canadian here, country boy at that. been with f1fanatic from the get go. lost me tv over 8 years ago. i’ve have spent many a sunday morning at 4;00am watching live timing on officialf1 and thats all there was! over the years i “adapted”.
    today, any feed you can want is on the comp for free. hook up hdmi and its pretty good on big sceen. ever hear of VyprVpn. come on folks, make it what u want!!!

  4. In itself, the insight that F1 may not stay free-to-air in the UK is hardly controversial. After all, there is no guarantee that in the future the BBC or another channel will take up the rights. However, Bernie coming out and stating it is already a little bit annoying, as if it is some kind of message in his political games. What really annoys me is his twisting of the facts beyond recognition. He makes it sound as if 10 million people watch the races live on Sky alone, compared to 6 or 7 million on the BBC last year.

    I’m not from the UK, btw, though I do watch the BBC coverage when it is available, (otherwise I watch Dutch RTL which has some ad breaks), so from a personal point of view I am not that bothered about how F1 is broadcast in the UK. However, reduced viewing of the sport in the country where it is most popular can hardly be a good thing for F1.

    I also agree with @lateralus‘s point that I would like to see an official live feed from FOM at a price, if the price were reasonable, and that is a big if. Their live timing-app has increased in price from 0 (I believe) to 23 euros this year! Anyway, if an official feed were available, that would mean I wouldn’t have to stay home every GP weekend (which is Ok for me, but not nice for the family).

    1. Agree with that on all points @adrianmorse, apart from usually watching on Dutch RTL as that is HD, and recording BBC+switching on ad breaks (but with Sky feed on computer).

  5. Congrats on 1000 Articles Keith! (I’m presuming that’s the milestone).

    1. Pages, not articles.

      1. @chops 10,000 articles perhaps?
        Only seven to go assuming 10 per page for a thousand pages (page 1000 only has three articles on it)

        1. Aaah nice work. That makes sense.

  6. Regarding Sky, it all sounds like rubbish. I honestly don’t see the BBC.dropping their coverage altogether. They already screwed the fans over last year and you would like to think that they’ve now got their business model right for F1. I don’t see them letting the fans down again. With that in mind I don’t see Sky taking the opportunity to throw ads at us in 2013. If a race is shared with the BBC for a particular weekend people will just flick to that while Sky are at a break and probably not bother switching back.

    1. It’s simple – the BBC cannot afford F1 as a long-term entity without some massive price cuts (or change in how the deals are arranged) and Sky have deep enough pockets to simply out-bid them should they desire it. Whether the fans get screwed over or not is irrelevant if Bernie takes away the BBC’s license to cover the sport.

      No doubt they are already looking at the comparative viewing figures and trying to work out if any Sky subscribers are still watching the BBC coverage rather than their own (something they can easily do by monitoring their internal viewing figures during a live GP weekend) – if the numbers are right, they can just throw more money at Bernie for 100% exclusive live races and boom, all the Sky subs will likely start watching the dedicated channel.

      Even if Sky only get a paltry million views, assuming the ~£30 minimum sub fee to get HD & ~two races pcm, each F1 race is bringing them nearly ~£15 million from subs who are watching the channel. If some of the viewing figures for the BBC are also Sky subscribers, that number is much larger. This is just blue sky figures, but theoretically Sky have already made back their investment in F1 for 2012.

      1. @optimaximal Oh yeah, I don’t expect the BBC to pay for something they can’t afford, however, the whole point of the deal with Sky was to ensure that fans could access as many races on FTA TV as possible without the BBC bankrupting itself. Now we have some measures in place I think the BBC would find it difficult to justify only 12 months later to find that it’s not a model that’s working for them.

        1. The point is, the BBC doesn’t have to justify anything. Yes, they’re a public service broadcaster beholden to their viewers, but if Bernie makes the renewal terms unreasonable (possibly with a garnish from Sky), they will have to break the contract as they’ve got no spare change at the moment.

          He’s shown in the past with the Spanish(?) rights that he has no trouble breaking contracts with TV providers if they can’t pay if an alternative presents itself – threats of fines come out the woodwork only if its a one-party race.

  7. Yes we all hate Rupert Murdoch blah blah bring back Murrey Walker blah blah blah.

    This Kate Walker has retracted the statement about Sky introducing in-race ads (click on the link in the round up). Might be best to update on this site too @keithcollantine

    I can’t see them doing that just for F1 and no other sport. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the BBC reduce or even ditch their F1 coverage early though.

    1. Kate retracted the linked story because it related to the Italian TV rights (the source she used was ambiguous).

      She has since posted a new story relating to the British rights here –

  8. Great to see a pro-Webber comment of the day, the guy has taken some **** over the years but he is a model pro, getting the results he deserves again – infact he is the ideal candidate to blow JV’s theory that all driver’s are babies out of the water!!

  9. Good to hear JV again! Love it when he speaks his mind.

  10. Okay, everybody just take a second to think. Don’t react. Just think about this: Bernie never actually says that Formula 1 will leave free-to-air television, only that it could. Let’s read everything that he said in that article:

    “We will never move all countries to pay‑per‑view only though it wouldn’t make any difference here in the UK.”

    “Sky reaches over 10m. We don’t get 10m on the BBC, normally about 6m or 7m.”

    “The thing that TV stations want to buy most is live sport. People don’t want to watch delayed stuff because nowadays it’s hard not to know the result if you don’t want to.”

    “Sky have done a super job.”

    “The Beeb were sure we wouldn’t be able to go anywhere else.”

    So someone please tell me, where does Bernie actually say that he is planning to move the sport entirly to free-to-air? If anything, he says that he will never do it. He is simply pointing out that he feels Sky has drawn enough ratings that if they were to acquire the exclusive broadcast rights, the sport would not suffer for it.

    1. He just implies it, and suggests nobody would suffer if it were to happen by completely manipulating the numbers.

  11. I was stunned when I read the JV article, they gave sutch a misleading headline. Then I read the script of the press conference, and I realised why they say Button would be a good ambassador for F1.

    Q: (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo) To all of you, a World Champion, Jacques Villeneuve, said this generation of drivers are all Daddy’s boys.
    JB: I’ll make a comment. Jacques has a very unusual way of answering questions but you’ve also just picked out one piece of his interview. Basically, the more important part of his interview is him talking about safety and the way that back in the seventies the drivers were more aware of there being a lot more risk and the possibilities of fatality. I think he was stating that these days racing has got safer, and the circuits have got safer, and he was talking about the manoeuvre with Nico and Lewis in Bahrain and he was stating that he didn’t think it was correct. That’s what he was saying. But that’s quite normal for you to pick out that sentence.

  12. Bernie go away.

  13. I think there is actually some logic behind Bernie’s comments. What he might mean is: We like to keep F1 free to view in most upcoming markets (America, Asia, Russia etc.). Because that is where he can increase the number of viewers, and people aren’t going to cough up a lot of money to watch a sport they might not even like. As for the established countries (most western European countries), here there are lots of fans that will pay to watch their favorite sport, and not so much potential new fans.

    1. I must say that while I might not like the tactic @sempregilles, it sounds like a pretty viable one and one it would make business sense to follow.

    2. Bernie’s logic is probably right, from his point of view. The problem is the core market – Europe – is basically bankrupt and its population are struggling to make ends meet on a massive scale.

      I currently ‘share’ a Sky Go account with someone who has a full sub, which I use to watch the live races. I’d also happily pay a reasonable sum (even £10-£15pcm) to watch the races on the internet, but I can’t afford the commitment to a full Sky sub and still pay my mortgage and feed my 2 year old son, such is my families financial balancing act.

  14. Interesting that Bernie times this comment to coincide with a race which isn’t live on BBC.

    Is it normal to question why you still follow a sport, even though you don’t agree with its direction, rules, rule-enforcement, broadcasting and ethics? Starting to know how Casey Stoner feels.

    1. Is it normal to question why you still follow a sport, even though you don’t agree with its direction, rules, rule-enforcement, broadcasting and ethics?

      I asked myself that question at the end of last season. After the last race, I was honestly prepared to stop watching my favourite sport on the grounds that there would have been not enough passion to cope with it not being live. If it’s wasn’t live, then it would have just felt frustrating and a bit empty watching it knowing that it’s already happened and you could just find out the results within a click of a mouse.

      Thank goodness for Kimi Raikkonen coming back and giving me a reason to watch my favourite sport again. In the end, I’m glad I did with it being one of the most exciting and unpredictable season I’ve ever seen. Though when he retires again, and F1 will probably be completely on ‘pay-to-air’ T.V, I would probably hang up my racing eyes. Pretty much like Casey Stoner.

  15. I believe that this “exclusive Pay Per View in the UK” comment should be seen in the light of previous Bernie statements…
    We still haven’t got shortcuts in F1.
    There still isn’t a medal system.
    And Ferrari are still considered indispensable.
    Silverstone/Britain still has a Grand Prix.

    All he is doing is trying to manipulate someone.

    1. I rather think it might have more to do with ongoing talks about the Concorde Argeement, and a bit as a reaction to the deal with Sky in Italy.

    2. The medal system wasn’t for lack of trying though. That was only dropped because F1 didn’t know its own rules, and thankfully following that they decided not to try introducing it again.

  16. Doesn’t it say somewhere in amongst the agreements and contracts that F1 *has* to be available free-to-air in some form? I’m sure this point was made during the original brouhaha. I don’t have the time to trawl back through the posts to find it at the minute.

    1. Something like that is part of the Concorde Agreement, @squaregoldfish, it was discussed last year amongst the discussion about the BBC/Sky deal.

      And now you write it down, you might be on to something. Although its something not directly related with viewers it does give a hint of why Bernie is talking about it now. Because that Concorde Agreement will end this year, and is being negotiated for the coming years, starting in … 2013. And its fully possible to change any such provisions to enable NOT having ANY FTA coverage in key markets.

      When one thinks about it, suddenly Bernie’s remark fits into the negotiations with the teams, as it might be a point they had been arguing about (say, if teams want FTA, OK, but they will get less share of the money or something like that).

  17. Just wish F1 would follow MotoGPs idea of hosting live coverage on their website and paying for a yearly subscription (which is great by the way), instead of having to commit to a subscription to Sky for which that’d be the only thing on I’d watch if I ended up having to get Sky installed (which seems ridiculously over the top these days).

    1. F1 coudn’t do that for contractual reasons. Most F1 broadcaster’s buys exclusive rights for that region which prevents any dedicated online feeds been made avaliable.

      Its for this reason that each individual broadcaster is left to provide online/mobile feeds.

      MotoGP do it mostly because there TV deal is a bit of a mess with most country’s not having any live coverage.

  18. whiny brit
    8th June 2012, 9:42

    Firstly, i refuse to take responsibility for Bernie’s scheduling policy, races held at the best time of the day for the host country is perfectly fine by me, even if that means recording the event or getting up at an unsociable hour of the morning.
    Secondly, i pay for F1 coverage via my TV Licence Fee, every Brit with TV Licence pays for F1 regardless of whether they watch it or not.
    Thirdly, we Brits are not unaccustomed to ad-breaks during F1 races, its not so long ago that ITV had the coverage and we had to endure ad-breaks at crucial times during the race that were the equivalent to ad-breaks just before a penalty kick in a football match.
    Fourthly, meh.
    Fifthly, meh.

    “Man up and Pay for sky!”
    NO!, why on earth would i pay an extortionate subscription fee for a broadcast service that is going to bombard my TV with adverts. Bernie might think that he can squeeze more money out of my pocket via SKY rather than via the BBC, aint gonna happen. Also, its News Corp, they dont get my money at all.

    1. Nick.UK (@)
      8th June 2012, 11:25

      “Also, its News Corp, they dont get my money at all.”

      EXACTLY! I take a hard line and don’t give any of my money to that evil empire.

  19. I think it’s time to learn a language where it’s broadcast is FTA. I’ve always fancied learning Deutsch.

  20. Rui (@ruicaridade)
    8th June 2012, 10:33

    The whole issue with Sky / BBC just means more and more people will be watching races through web streams. Is there any difference , license fee wise, between watching F1 in a pub (1 license multiple watchers) and through a web stream ? If the pub owner installs Sky (or any other pay per view in another country) to draw people in, is it really that different for a individual to make a web stream of a content he pays for and making it available for others to watch?
    In Portugal 5 years back F1 went on pay per view and honestly if it weren’t for web streams i couldn’t watch it. I missed a couple of years of F1 due to that.

    1. There is a big difference @ruicaridade, at least in the UK with Sky. A pub pays a different charge (higher) from home users to show the coverage, as its part of their business.

      1. Rui (@ruicaridade)
        8th June 2012, 11:24

        Oh. Here (Portugal) the price is the same.

        1. In that case, have a look at the Formula 1 in Pubs initiative, and maybe try to set up something like that in Portugal @uicaridade! –

          1. Rui (@ruicaridade)
            8th June 2012, 14:21

            Nevertheless even if the fees are bigger could there not be something like an “online/virtual pub”? You could play a membership fee and enable the people that attend your “pub” to watch F1 or any other thing for that matter.

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