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This ‘Keep F1 on the BBC’ e-petition rubbish…

I saw yesterday that there was an e-petition to keep F1 free to air in this country and lots of F1 fans are getting rather excited by this. However when you take a step back and think about this clearly and rationally you see that it is complete and utter codswallop (seriously love that word) and people should think about what the government would really do.

If the e-petition gets the 100,000 signatures it needs to get debated in parliament are MPs really going to put the F1 calendar on the protected events list? Is the F1 season of national importance that brings the country together? Does it have the history of the Grand National? Does the sport pack out pubs like the World Cup or European Championships? Does an F1 race transfix a nation for a fortnight like Wimbledon does?

No it doesn’t – and I’m saying this as a huge F1 nut. I’d love the sport to stat right where it is for all the races. I think the BBC’s coverage has been second to none and it enables people who don’t have Sky to watch it. Now I do have Sky so I won’t be effected really but my sister and husband do not and they will not pay for Sky so they’ll lose several races live from next year and that is not right. However is this something that the government should be taking seriously at the moment?

Er…let me think about that…no.

The Eurozone is in such a fragile state that the economy could go down the tubes and we might get caught up in it despite being outside that bubble. The United States of America’s economy is nearly as bad and we have people thinking that parliament need to talk about what channel Formula 1 is on. Sometimes I just don’t know what planet some people live on and where their priorities lie.

I would love F1 to stay on the Beeb. That would be the ideal solution to this but does F1 have more national significance than say The Ashes? It really doesn’t. There is no way that any bill would pass the House of Commons to put the whole F1 calendar on the protected events list. There is more chance of me marrying Sophie Ellis-Bextor (yes the same metaphor again but hey it’s Sophie Ellis-Bextor) than there is of that e-petition ever being debated and resulting in a bill that ensures the whole season of F1 will be available to anyone who has a television and an aerial.

The world is looking at ruin and some people think time needs to be found for F1.

Give me bleedin’ strength.

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  1. Bec Bec


    The government did debate the F1 issue through a parliamentary select committee.

    As it supports 4,500 small businesses employing 38,500 people who collectively generate annual revenues equivalent to £6 billion.

  2. You may be right in the grand scheme of things, but they spend time messing around with other less important things, but nobody moans about that.

    The fact is f1 on average gets viewed by 4m people PER RACE! and when its on it takes up over 60% of terrestial tv viewers (thats with 2,3,4,5 combined!).

    Britain has not been more successfull / more involved / or more dominating in any other sport.

    2 of the last 3 champions are british.

    2 of the last 3 constructors are british (or british based)

    most of the teams are based in britain

    most of the staff / engineers are british (or educated in britain)


    You cannot name a sport (football not included)

    that we as a country are more:



    F1 brings in so much money to the economy, yet we cant even have our nation track funded by tax payers money (most other countries do)

    Now we face not having even the races funded by OUR tv license money?

    If there not going to fund it, then maybe they should allow me to NOT pay my tv license?? i dont watch anything else on the BBC.

    We pay for people to sit on there ar***ses all day not going to work with OUR tax money.

    So why cant we at least have something we do want funded?

    Rant over.

    Yes there are more pressing matters that need discussing, but that doesnt make this matter of none importance, f1 carries value to this country and should at least be looked at and given the status it deserves (protected that is).

  3. AlanBrowne AlanBrowne

    As another aside to this story, some of the comments criticising your take on this debacle have been bourne out by the recent news that MP Don Fostor has written to the BBCs director general about what he sees as irregularities in this deal. It would seem that the BBC approached Sky without any FTA terrestrial channel being aware that a deal to secure F1 was even possible. If this is true it is nothing less than an attempt by a publicly owned organisation to deny F1 to FTA channels with whom they are in direct competetion.
    As Mr Fostor said and I quote “I do not believe this result promotes the best interest of license fee payers and motor racing fans,”. The MP also wrote to Bernie Ecclestone who is qouted as saying ‘The BBC brought Sky to us with the idea of a joint contract […] It was not us who made that decision.’
    This smacks of very shabby by the BBC and shoud be investigated.

  4. MclarenF1 MclarenF1

    macca1 says…
    Recommend (9)
    Don’t know if this would work but if BBC said they had to cut costs and couldn afford the 40 million a year, then why not instead of doing a deal with sky and costing us fans alot more money, somehow make it that which I’m sure all of us fans would prefer, is setup there own “pay” system for the whole f1 weekend coverage I’m not sure how they would do it but I’m sure there boffins could. If they are getting in 6 millions + viewers they could charge £1 subscription and over the course of the 20 races would bring in +- 120 million.. Easily paying the 40 million and making profit at same time and keeping the same coverage we all enjoy. Who wouldn prefer that ?? Could this work ? This was my post on a f1 site..

  5. admin admin

    Hi chaps (and chapettes)

    Sorry it has taken me a while to reply but even though in general I have no life I was busy most of the weekend.

    So here goes:

    The BBC Six Nations deal hasn’t been announced yet for whatever reason (genuinely don’t know why) but it has been agreed. It’s out there if you look in the right places and speaking personally I heard it from someone within the ITV sport department who I know who was told that the deal was done (ITV sport had been keen to enter talks for the rights but were told they weren’t going out to tender)

    As for my Sky at university habits. In my first place I shared it with one other housemate and it my second it was split three ways. However I would have put it in even if I was solo and cut down on other things. Sky Sports has doomed this country (certainly they had back then) at least these days with good streams and broadband connections you can watch most live events through the interweb if you know where to look.

    As for how and why this BBC/Sky deal was done – I think we kinda you know already know that don’t we? Budgets meant something had to give and the decision was F1. BBC approached Sky asking whether they would be interested in doing a deal that would allow the BBC to keep half the races and Sky said yes. BBC approached Bernie for his ok and he said ok and the deal was done. ITV weren’t interested and C4 had interest but not until 2013 and’s interest was there but Bernie had very little real interest in going to Five due to it having no pedigree in top-class live sport.

    As for FTA offering a better deal than Sky. Well yes free is even that Pay but also you need to look closely at the numbers which clearly say that despite the downturn in the economy more people are installing Sky. People are forgoing an extra night or two out for more nights in and that leads to more people putting in Sky. If you go down the pub to watch a game once a week you probably buy 3 or 4 pints each time. That is the same as a months Sky’s subscription if you do that every Sunday. People are getting Sky more and more and that is a fact.

    As for where the information comes from regarding BBC were planning on using an exit clause in their contract but no other FTA channel were ready to run with F1 in 2012 then it’s out there. If you read enough stories in the papers/magazines then it’s there. This was not from any inside source and whilst it’s not public knowledge it is out there.

    As for C4/BBC – there was no-way that C4 were going to pay £45m odd to have all the races but still allow the Beeb to broadcast ten live. It was either ten races apiece (which was never discussed) or C4 taking on all the races for £45m from 2013. The fact they were unable/unwilling to go from 2012 allowed the BBC to approach Sky with a plan that is what we see today. Bernie gets around £70m per season (instead of £45m) and has his sport on two networks all season long. A great deal for Bernie I must say.

    If there are any other questions that I have no answered then please point them out to me. There were quite a few comments there so I may have missed one or two questions.

  6. S S

    I’m a licence fee payer who finds watching cars go round in circles for hours at a time one of the most boring things imaginable, so I’m quite happy with a deal that (a) means less of my licence fee is being spent on such rubbish and as an added bonus (b) means there are fewer times I turn the TV on on a weekend and am confronted with the brmm-brmms.

  7. Peter Bradley Peter Bradley

    it appears that it’s true that Channel 4 were ORIGINALLY planning to hold talks to take F1 from 2013, but that’s only because the rumours were going round TV land that that was when the BBC were supposedly planning on pulling out. I read somewhere that Channel 4 were prepared to match the deal made with Sky, but the BBC were not prepared to work with ‘a direct rival’. Mr Ecclestone was also prepared to invite Channel 5 to the table, but again Aunty wouldn’t have it. Pay TV getting involved was all down to the public body that WE are paying for, and that deserves questioning at the highest level in my opinion.

    The whole thing stinks. Good timing too, with the summer break in force, parliament on holiday etc, so nobody ‘official’ to delve into it.

    Conspiracy theory time… I think the BBC have always planned to show the entire race on a time delay, but they knew the news wouldn’t go down well with fans and originally said they’d only show highlights. Then they can appear to be saving face and giving the fans a small piecemeal victory by coming back from the break and agreeing to the whole race. Wouldn’t remotely surprise me…

  8. Ben Ben

    I think you’re underestimating the annoyance of the F1 fans; who are also BBC license payers. Perhaps the petition wont make any difference to a deal that’s clearly already been done on the quiet, but this is a democracy and people have a right to make their feelings known- especially for a service they fund. Mocking them as being slightly superficial for making a point about something they care about is a bit harsh. You should also note that BBC 6 Music fans made their feelings known about it getting the axe and that certainly did have an effect on the outcome.

  9. John H John H

    It’s on principal I will not be getting Sky Sports, not because I cannot afford it.

    I really don’t think any of us has the true facts on this issue, and if so please provide a source (for your Rugby claims).

    Fact is that we as funders of the BBC should know how and why this deal is done explcitly – Auntie has be accountable OR become a fully private company.


  10. ShaGGy ShaGGy

    On the 18th of July

    Bernie Ecclestone has said that he would likely approach Channel 5 first if the BBC elects not to extend its deal to cover Formula 1.

    The BBC’s current contract to broadcast grand prix racing finishes at the end of 2012, and there has been speculation that budget cuts at the company could make it unable to commit beyond then – or even exit its contract a year early.

    Ecclestone told The Sunday Telegraph that he hoped the BBC would choose to continue covering the sport – but admitted there were other options if it did not happen.

    “We have got no problem with the Beeb,” he said. “I can’t see how the BBC could cancel [its contract early]. We could probably sue them.”

    Speaking about other contenders to keep F1 on free-to-air television, Ecclestone suggested that he would approach Channel 5 owner Richard Desmond.

    “Let’s wait and see about the BBC because at the moment they want to make a noise,” he said. “[I would] talk to Richard, obviously.”

    He added: “It isn’t possible that F1 could go on to pay TV, we wouldn’t want to do that.”

    Yet on the 8th July it has been reported that Sky were at the GP by invitation of the BBC.

    As I said anti-competition, the BBC did things this way for ONE reason only and that was to prevent any other FTA channel from getting their hands (or even fingers) on F1 for at least another 7 years.

    I classic case of it’s my ball i’m not letting you play with it but Mr Skyman can.

  11. James James

    I’m not disagreeing with you on how much each BBC department is cutting but I would disagree with how much they should be cutting. Having BBC3’s lowest common denominator TV, most of which isn’t watched by anyone and entertainment shows which have all been outlasted by “Casualty” on a Saturday night being paid for while top quality sports such as F1 have to go just isn’t what licence fee payers want. Although I despise Eastenders, I would happily pay extra money to fund more episodes if a large audience was thought it was required and the same goes for any other shows with high ratings such as The Apprentice or Top Gear.

    According to an article in a national newspaper C4 and C5 only expected the BBC to drop out after 2012 so were not ready to offer a deal for 2012 when Sky got in quickly, I really don’t think they’d have had a problem with the financial side of things, especially as Bernie said Sky were chosen for their experience of broadcasting sport.

    As far as I can see the only European country which has a driver or team without free to air coverage is Finland, and they have a TV station specifically designed to for F1, which is much cheaper than £50 per race.

    Your argument that a student could afford Sky is based on a few years ago when fuel and food prices were much lower than they are now. I would describe buying a new laptop as something I couldn’t afford, technically I could, but I’d have absolutely nothing left which is not a situation I’d like to be starting my working life in. Were you paying all this Subscription yourself or were you splitting it with housemates?

    My views on Sky dropping the sport are based on that most people buy Sky Sports for football, on “Super Sunday” or whatever Americanised rubbish they’re calling it these days there are often top Football teams playing at 1pm and after the current economic situation picks up I honestly think free to air TV will be able to offer more competitive deals than Sky.

    Finally, it’s not the teams who raise the profile of the UK it’s the drivers. For example, Jenson Button is very popular in Japan, quite a lot of Japanese people who don’t watch F1 know who he is. In the US and Canada Lewis Hamilton is popular, even though in the US F1 isn’t even the number one Motorsport (he’s even in Cars 2). He’s also popular in some countries with a large Black population as some see him as a sign of progress in world sport.

  12. ShaGGy ShaGGy

    Can i ask where you got this information regarding ITV C4 and C5 were planning break out of the contract?

    Planning and putting information out to the other operators are two different things and I am sure if what you claim was true it would have been on all the news channels and bugger F1 sites (the ones who have inside contacts)

  13. admin admin

    Firstly on The Voice. That is two different departments. All departments have to cut their budget by 20%. Entertainment have and yet still had money for The Voice. Sport had several long-term deals and one had to go or be heavily restructured.

    As for the Concorde Agreement. Had the BBC broke their contract then Bernie would have been free to go to whoever could pay the money as the CA allows the races not to go FTA if they cannot get a good enough price. There are countries that do not have any FTA coverage now because no FTA station will pay an acceptable rate. He would not be forced to take 50p from Dave.

    Sky may be hated like you say but more and more people are installing Sky each month. We also live in a Free Market so they are free to trade as they like.

    Personally I’d be happy to pay a bit extra in TV License too but many wouldn’t. Would you like to pay an extra few quid to pay for extra episodes of Eastenders each year? The TV License sadly is what it is. I watch very few BBC programmes but there is nothing I can do about it so I don’t fret about it.

    As for the student defence. Yeah not buying that. I was at uni just a few years ago and I had Sky Sports in all three years because I budgeted for it. Sky Sports was basically the same price as most students would pay on a big night out.

    As for your belief that Sky will give up on F1 because they won’t get that many extra subs. Well that could happen but also Sky may be willing to keep a high-profile event to keep their current subscribers happy. F1 is a 8-9 month sport these days and they don’t just pick up sports to gain subs it’s also to keep current subs happy. They make a loss on many sports but they know it’s easier to defend the cost if people get many sports they like. Sky have long coveted F1 and the moment they had the chance they went for it. This wasn’t a snap decision – they have been planning this for years.

    I do understand how popular F1 is. I have watched F1 since the late 80s and I also know the TV figures and how well the sport is progressing ratings wise. However as for national image – that is not true really. No teams are seen by the world as ‘English’ so I fail to see how any event except the British GP helps the country on a global stage.

  14. James James

    Right, your facts seem somewhat different to mine. Number one, the last two F1 contract have been broken early so we are NOT 100% held into any contract till 2018. Number two, there is no way that F1 would have been only pay per view in 2012 because of something called the Concorde agreement which every serious F1 fan knows about, if the BBC had pulled out then Bernie would have done a deal with “Dave” if he had to. Thirdly, this deal saved the BBC 75p for every licence fee when they’re spending £22m on an American singing show format (with another £5m to Cheryl Cole) which will undoubtedly get less viewers than F1 because it’s up against x-factor, ignoring that the time for that kind of show would have been about 5 years ago (declining x-factor audiences).

    There is also the issue of Sky being hated more than ever in this country and giving them a licence to make more money by helping them with public funds is unacceptable, especially without public consultation.

    On a personal note, I only pay the licence fee to watch F1 and I would gladly pay an extra £50 or £100 per year to watch F1, but as a student I couldn’t possibly afford £500 and it will ruin the sport for myself and many others if we are not able to watch it live.

    My real belief is that Sky will see no significant rise in profits and F1 will be back on free to air sooner than 2018 because hundreds of football matches for £500 is reasonable value whereas ten F1 races is not. Also, that the smaller teams won’t be on the BBC highlights very much at all so will complain and the rest will have to listen because you couldn’t have a sport with just three teams.

    Finally, The thing you and others fail to understand is that F1 is popular these days and it is a sport we are competing on the world stage in and is helping our national image across the world in, especially within Asia and the middle east. F1 is not something you can just go out and play in the park as a kid. Therefore, without protected status it’s a sport Britain could be without in 20 years.

  15. admin admin

    Wow…I expected some criticism but boy I didn’t expect this but hey ho.

    Firstly have I ever claimed to be anyone? This blog is still sub-titled ‘another pointless voice in the vast ocean that is the interweb’ and in my about me section I say that I’m just ‘another bum from the neighbourhood’ so this is a personal blog were I vent my thoughts. I’m a nobody but like all nobodies I have an opinion.

    On to the subject. I know this story inside and out so to those who say I need to do research they are not on the money.

    This is how it went down and this is fact folks.

    When the BBC re-upped on the Six Nations last month (deal agreed but not announced) then the budget was not there for F1. The BBC were either using an escape clause or they were looking for a partner. BBC approached Sky when it became clear that no-one was willing to take over the final two years of the F1 deal from the BBC (Channel 4 was interested but not until 2013) so basically the options were this – F1 being only on Sky or F1 being on BBC/Sky. They are the only options for the 2012 season.

    I want F1 on the BBC and I want F1 on FTA but I also know that there is zero chance that it can ever make it on to the protected events list. Zero. Get that? Zero.

    Even if it did (and it wouldn’t) then it would only take effect from after the current contract which lasts until the end of the 2018 season. There is nothing. I shall repeat that. Nothing that the government can do to stop this deal.

    Rightly or wrongly we live in a free market and Sky are free to buy any TV rights that are not on the protected list. F1 is not on said list so Sky are free to buy it. The BBC are also free to do a deal with another broadcast partner. Again it is a free market and even though the TV license is something we all pay for – it is not an enforced tax.

    Look in an ideal world I’m with you all but I also know that there is no chance of this e-petition ever making a change in government strategy. Seriously are 1000s of the electorate going to go to their local MP and lobby them on this issue and if they did and the MP relented then this will happen all the time on issues not of local or national importance.

    F1 is entertainment. Yes a lot of the technical expertise come from the UK but F1 is still fully available on FTA TV. Top level cricket is now only available live on Pay TV and sadly that which is one of our two major sports.

    As I’ve said in an ideal world I’m with you all but I also know there is no chance of this succeeding and I do not think the government should even be getting into this. A far more pertinent question is to ask why the BBC had their budget capped. Would those who do not like F1 be happy with a TV license hike to pay for the sport? I’m not so sure they would…

    As for breaking anti-competition laws…they didn’t. ITV, C4 and C5 were informed that the BBC was planning to use their break clause and none were in a position to take on the sport in 2012. So options were Sky or BBC/Sky. That is the list.

    Anyway I know you are all passionate but keep this in perspective and be realistic…

  16. Paul Paul

    As has already been mentioned in other posts there is far more to this than keeping the sport on the BBC.
    There is a huge list of issues with this deal so you may wish to research and learn more, then maybe your view point would change.
    Also have you thought where most of the F1 teams and their staff are based?
    If you like sports which clearly you do as you state you are a huge F1 nut then you would sign the petition and give it your support.

  17. Sir JGP Sir JGP

    Mr Monnery, it is always a good idea to do research on the subject before you go writing an article on it. Clearly you do not understand what the petition was raised for and what the F1 fans/licence payers are fighting for

  18. Sir JGP Sir JGP

    Mr Monnery, it is always a good idea to do research on the subject before you go writing an article on it. Clearly you do not understand what the petition was raised for and what the F1 fans/licence payers are fightin.

  19. Peter Bradley Peter Bradley

    WTF? I’d never heard of you until I saw this link posted on facebook earlier, and I am obviously one of those people on a different planet, having added my signature to the many thousands of others earlier today.

    The way the deal was handled was completely out of order, and even Bernie Ecclestone said just 3 months ago that Sky would never get the rights due to its low audience share. When there were other free to air channels willing and able to share the coverage it was absolutely disgraceful that the BBC went with Murdoch’s machine instead, and I personally think a debate in parliament is fully justified as to how and why this deal came about. Seeing as the TV licence is a tax we have no choice but to pay, I think it’s more than fair to look into this matter more thoroughly.

  20. James James

    Another example of someone writing something without understanding what is going on. Firstly, as the other comments have stated the BBC should not be doing business with Sky in the current climate and with regards to competition in the industry this is an outrage.

    F1 fans are most annoyed because of the price, it’s not that we have to pay, it’s that we have to pay £50-£60 per race to watch a sport we love. Who could honestly justify this to their partner in the current climate?

    My final point is that F1 is clearly important to people as is sport in general, it is a way to get away from the worries of everyday life. Suggesting that people should be constantly worried about problems they haven’t caused is insulting to the public’s intelligence. If you think this ends with F1 you’re sadly mistaken, Wimbledon is going in 2013 or 2014 according to BBC insiders.

  21. ShaGGy ShaGGy

    As mentioned above the point of the petition is for the government to ask questions as to why the BBC broke ant-competition laws by doing a behind closed doors deal with a pay TV station closing out any possibility of another operator having the chance to make a bid until 2018 which is not in the PUBLIC’s interest.

    Hopefully the OFT will pass this on to the Competition Commission as I am sure what they have done goes completely against the law.

  22. John H John H

    By the way, these things aren’t debated in parliament for at least another year, so I’m sure the Eurozone crisis can get the attention it of course needs before any of these e-petitions have even the slightest chance of being raised in parliament.

    Perhaps you should direct your frustrations at why the phone hacking scandal received a ridiculous amount of coverage while all the problems with the Euro were starting to unfold.

  23. John H John H

    It’s the BBC ending their agreement early to go into partnership with BSkyB and not letting channel4 or ch5 properly bid for free to air coverage.

    You’ve missed the whole point of the grievance here. The BBC should not be doing deals with Sky and if they do then they should properly explain why as a public body.

  24. Pretty much the same view. The whole F1 calendar isn’t Tier A sport for the UK, maybe the British Grand Prix, but that’s it.
    I think the main question is why the BBC went for the 50/50 route, instead of just dropping it completely and allowing ITV/C4/Channel 5 to pick it all up. Would have made a bigger difference to the cuts on the sport budget.

    • admin admin

      I read that Channel 4 were ready to step in but not until 2013 and the BBC were desperate to get out of it’s current deal at the end of this year hence why they went to Sky. Had the BBC pulled out now it would have cost them a £50m penalty fee had another deal not already been lined up. I do agree that the 50/50 split is strange but if the Beeb are showing the non-live races ‘as-live’ and in full in the evening it is not as bad as it at first sounded.

      Still a bit of a mess though.

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