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The BBC has NOT axed F1.

UPDATED: July 29 – F1’s new contract – BBC/Sky Sports to share coverage – Article there >>>>>F1 Sells it’s soul

We woke up this morning to the following front page of The Sunday Times claiming that the BBC has axed F1.

Sunday Times Front Page 19/06/11
Sunday Times Front Page 19/06/11

Now I’m not saying that I have a better knowledge of the inner workings of the BBC than one of the most famous media publications in the world but in this instance I do.

The figures and conjecture in the piece are wildly inaccurate. The contract is worth £200m over five years and not £300m over the same period. That is a whopping £100m inaccuracy just to open up. Also when the piece says that the average race gets between 2-4m viewers that is wrong.

So far this season the average race has 4.7m viewers and we have had several early morning races as well. The Monaco GP averaged 6.1m and the Canadian GP despite the rain delay peaked at over 8m viewers and had the race not been transferred over to BBC2 it may have averaged over 8m viewers. These figures do not include the 1m or so listeners on BBC Radio 5live per weekend.

The piece is penned by the Sunday Times arts editor Richard Brooks who has long been anti anything that isn’t high brow. The Sunday Times is also owned by Rupert Murdoch whose BSkyB company are interested in both acquiring the rights to show the sport in the UK and in buying the sport itself. The main issue with this is F1 as it stands often goes head-to-head with football and that doesn’t seem ideal for Murdoch.

What is true however is that F1 may well leave the BBC. The point is it hasn’t as yet and nor have the BBC exercised their break clause so F1 will be on the BBC in 2012. The BBC have a break clause still that could negate the 2013 and 2014 seasons from being shown on the cooperation.

BBC Sport need to save 20% of their budget and that in real terms means one of the big three lives events will have to go. Wimbledon looks safe as the BBC and Wimbledon have a long history and relationship. Wimbledon officials know that if they left the Beeb and went to Sky then tennis as a sport in this country would die. So they will take less and make it up with their TV contracts for the event in other countries – namely the USA.

So it looks like a straight toss-up between F1 and the Six Nations for the chop and it could go either way. ITV would be interested in both events as even though they cut F1 in 2008 by activating their own break clause, the resurgence of the sport in terms of viewers would make them keen to take the sport again – as long as it was at the right price. The same is true on the Six Nations. If ITV could put the games in prime-time then they would be very interested. A game on a Friday night and then two games on a Saturday night would bring in a tonne of ABC1 viewers – the type every broadcaster is chasing.

So whilst the future of F1 on the BBC is less than assured. The piece in the Sunday Times which is behind a paywall therefore no link from me provided is less than accurate and in all honesty not worth reading or caring about.

UPDATED: July 29 – F1’s new contract – BBC/Sky Sports to share coverage – Article there >>>>>F1 Sells it’s soul

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  1. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with some pics to drive the message home a little bit, but instead of that, this is fantastic blog. An excellent read. I’ll certainly be back.

  2. bob bob

    You have pound signs in front of the viewing figures.

    • admin admin

      Thanks Bob. Duly amended.

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