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

F1 Fanatic round-up

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

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

  1. bag0 (@bag0) said on 8th June 2012, 8:34

    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.

  2. John H (@john-h) said on 8th June 2012, 8:59

    Bernie go away.

  3. SempreGilles (@sempregilles) said on 8th June 2012, 9:04

    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.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 8th June 2012, 10:00

      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.

    • Optimaximal (@optimaximal) said on 8th June 2012, 10:57

      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.

  4. Alex Brown (@splittimes) said on 8th June 2012, 9:19

    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.

    • James Brickles (@brickles) said on 8th June 2012, 10:32

      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.

  5. marcusbreese (@marcusbreese) said on 8th June 2012, 9:21

    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.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 8th June 2012, 10:10

      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.

    • matt90 (@matt90) said on 8th June 2012, 10:27

      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.

  6. squaregoldfish (@squaregoldfish) said on 8th June 2012, 9:35

    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.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 8th June 2012, 10:05

      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).

  7. 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).

    • GT_Racer said on 8th June 2012, 10:56

      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.

  8. whiny brit said on 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.

    • Nick.UK (@) said on 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.

  9. gatekiller (@gatekiller) said on 8th June 2012, 10:11

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

  10. Rui (@ruicaridade) said on 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.

  11. Bullfrog (@bullfrog) said on 8th June 2012, 10:34

    Even if all the races don’t end up on pay TV, I suspect more and more of them will. It’s a Trojan horse, Sky did the same thing with cricket and rugby. And if they’ll pay more for all the races than Sky and BBC combined are paying now, a deal will be done. Sadly, I expect BBC will pull out before the current agreement ends – again.

    I’m more disappointed that the Guardian is using Christian S**t. The poor guy just parrots anything Bernie says, out of either end, and pads it out with speculation (“The BBC was unavailable for comment”?! You didn’t even try!) and tries to blind us with unsubstantiated figures (he must’ve had a previous job selling car finance). He has a whole website dripping with this stuff (rhymes with **** *ss), and it’s a worry that it’s now being presented as news in (arguably) respectable papers.

  12. BasCB (@bascb) said on 8th June 2012, 10:35

    Here’s a bit more on the story of Bahar being sacked from Lotus.
    Looks to me as if the new owner is now doing what should have done a year ago. Clean up, ditch the over the top plans and built on what Lotus has with introduction of a new model, but not 5 at once.

  13. nickfrog (@nickfrog) said on 8th June 2012, 10:59

    The F1 sponsors must be delighted that prime markets like the UK and Italy see their actual number of viewers and therefore exposure reduced by Bernie’s short term greed. I am surprised the teams don’t moan either as this will affect their income too. Or is it compensated by added revenue ?

  14. PJA (@pja) said on 8th June 2012, 11:04

    Sadly I think it is inevitable that live F1 will move away from free to air TV in the major markets, it won’t help the long term popularity of the sport but it will help the income, in the short term at least.

    Yes Ecclestone says that F1 will never move all countries to pay-per-view, and it wouldn’t make sense as they wouldn’t want to do that in countries where the sport isn’t popular and they wanted it to grow.

    Also in the past people believed Ecclestone had said F1 would always be free to air in the UK, but it turns out that half the races live and highlights is enough to fit those conditions, so even just a highlights package late at night on a minor channel would be enough to say F1 was still on free to air TV.

    The problem I have with the interview is where he states it wouldn’t make any difference in the UK if F1 went to pay per view only.

    As Ecclestone isn’t an idiot he obviously knows that isn’t true, but he tries to justify it by saying that Sky reaches more households than view F1 on the BBC, as if every Sky subscriber will watch F1 which is just plain nonsense.

    The BBC reaches every house in the UK with a TV whereas according to Ecclestone’s figures Sky don’t even reach half of them, also the fact that the BBC still has more viewers for highlights than Sky does for live races show it would make an impact.

    As has already been suggested Ecclestone is probably using this as part of a negotiating tactic regarding the Concorde Agreement.

  15. GT_Racer said on 8th June 2012, 11:05

    For the record that Guardian article is littered with errors, Sky are paying much more than £25m.

    Also F1 coudn’t move totally away from FTA-TV as teams woudn’t allow it, Neither would the concorde agreement. The current Sky/BBC deal is only allowed because every race is still avaliable on FTA-TV (Highlights or Live).

    As to the Sky Italia deal. F1 has been on Sky Italia before (Both before & After it became Sky) & they did a good job with the coverage.
    F1 has also been broadcast on what is now Sky Deutschland (Was DSF:Plus & Premiere previously) since 1996.

    • Optimaximal (@optimaximal) said on 8th June 2012, 13:56

      Yes, the current Agreement requires FTA coverage. No, there is no certainty that the one that starts next year will have such a clause – in fact, as it’s designed as a long-term contract, so I doubt it will include that clause, given the way the internet is developing as a viable means of transmitting both live and time-shifted sports events.

      I believe that the investment with TATA is groundwork for expansion into new media delivery. It’s just proceeding at a glacial pace because of the lead balloon that are the expensive broadcast contracts – If Bernie announced tomorrow that all fans can sign up to FOM-run live internet streams for a monthly/annual sub, everyone would be happy… Well, apart from the TV companies who have spent millions on the contracts.

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