Sunday Times claims BBC will drop F1 in 2013

2013 F1 season

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Start, Monaco, 2011

The Sunday Times has claimed the BBC will drop its Formula 1 coverage after the 2013 season.

In a front-page article under the headline “BBC axes Formula 1”, the newspaper quotes an unidentified source claiming the corporation will not bid for an extension of its current contract beyond 2013.

The Sunday Times is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, which has been linked to a potential takeover of Formula 1’s commercial rights.

BBC took over from ITV as Britain’s F1 broadcaster in 2009. Its coverage is also screened in other English-speaking countries to around 50 million viewers in 2010.

The Sunday Times article claims “F1 costs 1 a head for every viewer, compared with the average 7p an hour broadcast cost for BBC1 and BBC2. Apart from the British Grand Prix, most races attract only between 2m and 4m viewers.”

According to figures published by the BBC last month, the Monaco Grand Prix saw a peak of 6.1m viewers, an increase of 400,000 on 2010. Some 6.2m people saw the Spanish Grand Prix, an increase of 1.2m over the previous year.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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143 comments on “Sunday Times claims BBC will drop F1 in 2013”

  1. If the BBC do drop their F1 coverage, as long as whoever does take it up keeps Eddie Jordan, I would cope.

    1. I’d put your shields up… NOW! :P

    2. I love your sense of irony. Of course, we all know that EJ is a complete drop-kick.

      1. If by ‘drop-kick’, you mean ‘extremely entertaining and valuable member of the BBCF1 team’, I agree.

        1. i agree with geoff, i think EJ is just as good as the others and that the whole team works together, like Ron Burgundy lol

        2. Jordan, Humphrey and the bold ex-Legard, examples of the hot pish that BBC Sport executives choose to throw in the punters’ faces, that them losing the rights would probably not prove to be such a hardship.

          1. What? Easy to snipe but you suggest what alternatives?

        3. Er……, that’s a definition I’m not previously familiar with. Clearly you’re a fan of the style of rugby played in the northern hemisphere that kicking a drop goal is more ‘entertaining’ than stunning team work that results in a try.

          1. I do like Eddie Jordan, I just saw this as a glorious opportunity to wind up those who don’t appreciate him!

    3. I always fast forward through EJ and his pompous blah blah.

    4. EJ? Haha no one can stand the guy!

      Who ever takes it over needs to be unbiased (or at least attempt to hide their bias) because the current crew (and ITV) are like a finely polished propaganda machine designed to guarantee their local drivers seats in top teams.

      I think the English speaking population outside of Europe are so fed up with having average skilled Di Resta’s forced down our throats at every opportunity that anything at the moment besides the BBC is looking extremely attractive at the moment.

      However compared to mute or our local commentators, the quality of the BBC show and the information they give us is just on another level.

      I’d be happy with an American show, because currently there are no American drivers and thus there is no conflict of interests.

      1. Spoken truly like someone who has never seen an American broadcast of an F1 race – I live here and am forced to watch it if I choose to watch the race live. A bunch of beer bellied oafs (and Steve Matchett, the only saving grace of the show – but hes even a former member of the damned cheating Benetton) acting confused about which driver is who and what strategy is being played out. Brundle and Coulthard bring an extraordinary level of insight and premonition because they each have over a decade of F1 racing under their belts.

        The BBC broadcast is the finest in the world, possibly second only to the Japanese broadcast of which I am not able to watch due to my limited understanding of the language. But certainly its much better than ITV, SpeedTV, TVGlobo and RTL (the latter two being just as if not more guilty as the BBC for their nationalism).

        There is a wealth of knowledge shared with the viewers, while sometimes repetitive it also plays to those who are seasoned fans of the sport. Some bits of theatrics here and there as well for the intro and outro. The forum is fantastic, seeing EJ dunked multiple times in the RBR pool while looking for his lucky charms was absolutely hilarious. Where else do you get that?

        1. The New Pope
          20th June 2011, 5:11

          We love Hobbs, Matchett, and Varsha at our house!

          1. I think Hobbs needs to retire. Matchett brings lots of knowledge to the table, and Varsha reminds me of Jonathan Leggard, sans the excitement.

      2. You gotta remember, BBC is not a public service for English speaking people all over the world. It is British license payer who pays for it, it is only natural that they will be covering British drivers more often. Plus all the drivers will find it more convenient to speak to their national press and vice versa. A German driver will prefer to speak more to German press, they have more contact off the GP circuit. So same goes true British drivers and press.

        1. Mahir C, but the BBC licenses out their coverage for others around the world, so while they get money from the British taxpayers they also get money from the Australians to get their coverage and also from etc…

          And I doubt it would be as well supported if all the countries that gave teh BBC money to use Coulthard and Brundle as their commentary stoped it because THEN and only THEN would the bbc have to rely on the british public for money

  2. Hmm Murdoch’s paper says BBC will drop it. Oh and an un-named source, they usually dont make rumours up do they?!

    1. what’s the first rule about journalism? make sure your information is accurate! this article obviously is legit..

      1. You’re having a laugh right? That hasn’t been the case for a number of years in the bigger media groups.

      2. Naturally, being good journalists they got the story corroborated before going into print by two independent sources: Rupert Murdoch and some other chap called James Murdoch. However, I can’t help feeling they might be related……… It’s not a very common surname.

        Funny, just today I picked up a fab book by Harold Evans, the chap who resigned as editor of the Times when Murdoch bought Times Newspapers in 1981. Evans resigned after a year over policy differences relating to editorial independence. His book, Good Times, Bad Times is worth read.

      3. This would be true for most papers. For Murdochs however…

      4. You should have a look at FOX News and that will tell you what Murdoch’s definition of “legit” is!

      5. What’s the first rule about journalism if you are Murdoch?

        Given that Murdoch wants F1 – why? Because the viewing figures are going up – and given that he owns Sky where people have to pay for sport, wouldn’t it make sense for him to invoke his propaganda machine??!!

        This is why Murdoch and the Murdoch empire is a BAD thing for UK entertainment and UK sport.

        The sale of F1 to Murdoch will ring its death knell….

      6. gotta be COTD!!!!

        first rule of journalism is to get the story first. accuracy is not important.
        where’d the horror stories of the world ending when the LHC (large hadron collider) was fired up come from? that’s right, the press.

      7. An article like this makes me think that the Sunday Times is moving down the road towards how Fox News in America deals with information (Fox News is also owned by Rupert Murdoch). Fox News has no Journalistic Integrity, I doubt they even have a journalist working for them. It’s all just people spewing options, very Conservative options in the case of Fox (Murdoch himself admits that he pushes the conservative agenda in America because it makes more money). Fox News is a propaganda network, not a news network, and it makes me think this article from the Times is also propaganda, trying to help Rupert Murdoch and his objective of taking over the rights to F1.

    2. The link to the persistent rumour about Murdoch-related companies buying F1 is curious though.

      Perhaps the paper has been told that by that time the News International deal will be done and BBC will not be invited to extend? It’d be a crying shame…

      1. I think that would face some competition in the courts as it would probably be in breach of competition laws.

    3. An unnamed source told me aliens are going to land tomorrow, ready your banners to welcome are new and eternal overlords!

  3. Let’s wait and see what happens on this one before reaching conclusions. I for one have always been suspicious of so-called insider views in newspapers where the insider cannot be identified, and the viewing figures contrast throws further doubt on this.

    1. Thinking about this brings me to the conclusion this is just a ploy to drive the price of commercial rights down. Who stands to benefit from such a price drop? Not Murdoch you say?

  4. To be serious, though, can you imagine the sheer flood of complaints the Beeb would receive if they announced that they were going to drop their F1 coverage? I’m thinking at least a few hundred thousand.

    1. And those would just be from me :P

      1. …and from me. Altough I don’t even live in the UK. :-D

        1. Another one from me and Tiny. Tiny is a fat dog :(

  5. James Scantlebury
    19th June 2011, 10:39

    Copied and pasted from Digital Spy.

    “In short: The newspaper is pro-Tory. It’s F1 editor is openly wanting F1 to go to Sky. Hence, the article is best ignored as it is inaccurate throughout.”

    1) “Its contract to screen F1 for five seasons until 2013 will cost £300m.
    – incorrect. It is well known that the contract costs BBC about £200m over 5 years, with the next contract increased to £235m. I guess that may factor in production costs, but as far as I know they are minimal and definitely would not amount to an extra £20m per year.

    2) “At about £3m per race, it is the most expensive BBC programme being broadcast.”
    – incorrect. As the first point of £300m is wrong, the second point is also wrong. At 19 races, each race costs BBC about £2.1m. In my book, that is not £3m. The point “it is the most expensive BBC programme being broadcast” is factually incorrect. You cannot compare 5 hours of programming on BBC1 at £3m with a drama at 9pm on BBC1 which typically costs about £600,000. In fact, going on the £2.1m figure, F1 costs BBC about £420,000 per hour. I’ve even excluded things like the F1 Forum and Practice with that figure and all the other stuff they do, in reality the figure will be lower than that. Some dramas on BBC1 only get 4.5m viewers and cost £600,000, whereas with F1 you get you’re hard to reach 16 to 34 audience, it doesn’t cost much and you get at least 4.5m viewers on average per race. Everyone wins.

    3) “An insider said the cost of covering 19 F1 races was more than the entire budget of BBC4.”
    – again depends on whether the £60m per year figure is correct, because its the first time I’ve seen it. BBC4 costs £55m per year, so if the £60m per year figure for F1 is wrong, then the entire article is spouted with inaccuracy and riddles.

    4) “The source said the BBC did not intend to rebid for the F1 contract when it expired in November 2013.”
    – in which case, why did you have a scaremongering title saying ‘BBC AXES FORMULA ONE’. Axes suggests you’re terminating the contract early. No early termination is being seeked hear if you are to believe the article. Besides, they would not rebid for a contract an entire one and a half years before you would even begin discussing it.

    5) “It has emerged that F1 costs £1 a head for every viewer, compared with the average 7p an hour broadcast cost for BBC1 and BBC2.”…rts_rights.pdf ; page 35
    – Formula 1 2009 – hit in every category, only one of two events to do this.
    – as a said at the time (page 36) : “[✂ Redacted] is the outstanding success, significantly exceeding all of its reach, average audience and cost per viewer hour targets” – is almost certainly referring to F1
    – hence this on Page 4: “Formula 1 has been a significant success in 2009/10, exceeding all of its reach, average audience and cost per viewer hour target”
    – report was done earlier this year into the process of acquiring sports rights
    – see page 33: “Formula 1 and Premier League highlights attract a younger (16-34) male audience that is otherwise hard to reach….”

    6) “Apart from the British Grand Prix, most races attract between 2m and 4m viewers.” – enough said at this point
    – only one race has dipped under 4m, and that was because it was against a Ford Super Sunday triple header on Sky Sports

    7) “It costs more for each hour than even the most expensive dramas such as South Riding, Cranford and Doctor Who.”
    – again, this depends on whether the £60m figure is actually true. I mean, why have we only just heard about this now? They’ve had the rights for 2 and a half years, yet we’ve only just heard about the £60m figure despite numerous source saying £40m.

    8) “The proposal to dump F1 will be among a package of measures to be put to the BBC Trust in the Autumn.”
    – so only towards the end of the article do you actually tell us that they haven’t axed it, despite the headline saying to the contrary?

    In short: The newspaper is pro-Tory. It’s F1 editor is openly wanting F1 to go to Sky. Hence, the article is best ignored as it is inaccurate throughout.

    1. You’ve put in a lot of work there!

      The headline is very misleading but it just sounds better than ‘BBC might not renew 2013 F1 contract, we’re not sure though’.

      1. jsw11984 (@jarred-walmsley)
        19th June 2011, 11:14

        Only ever so slightly, I would like to see that though, be nice to have some honest headlines in the paper for once.

      2. He didn’t put in any work, as he clearly stated it is copied from a post made by DMN, who is widely known across messageboards as apologist in chief for BBC.

        The deliberate leaking of such 6Music/Asian Network either/or nightmare scenario to the Sunday Times by BBC management is now established as standard practise for them, hoping to capitalize on outcry and squeeze the treasury for more money, rather than knuckle down and get better value for the 3.2 billion quid per year that they currently extract from the populace.

        1. apologist in chief for BBC? that’s jb26.

        2. At any rate, He brought this fantastic piece to our attention. I salute you James.

          I think we should spam the Times inbox with this.

    2. Very comprehensive. Thank you.

    3. Is this too long for comment of the day?

      1. As it’s copied-and-pasted, I’m not sure it’ll get COTD, but if it received COTD, the essence of it could be used for the quote – Keith’s done that before :)

    4. I think your (source’s) first assumption is wrong. It’s only one million per race. And ofr that you have to:

      – fly all the people (including all technicians, camara operators, sound operators) and equipment over the globe,
      – make sure everybody gets paid a healthy salary,
      – make sure everything and everybody is insured,
      – make sure everybody gets meals, hotels etc.
      – arrange for broadband space on your site — etc. etc.

      Then again, Gold Leaf explained it all.

      1. I think you should put more emphasis on the additional, coverage, qualy, practice and discussion. before calculating cost per hour. Murdoch owns SpeedTV in USA which is where I watch most of the races I get to see and I believe it is their most watched program despite endless Nascar coverage.I don’t like Ruperts methods but only a fool would bet against him, If he wants F1 then its worth a lot more than he will acknowledge.

        1. Yes but Murdoch’s main problem will be the requirement in the Concorde agreement for F1 to be available on free-to-air TV in the UK.

          As Sky is a subscription based service then he’ll also have to buy up an existing free-to-air channel.

      2. TV feeds for F1 races are provided by Formula One Group. They provide the live feeds to broadcasters across the globe. The TV companies just provide the commentary and any additional material they wish to include in their coverage.
        The amount of staff and equipment shipped to individual races is minimal.
        The BBC feed, commentary and additional programming is taken by many English speaking countries around the world, for which I presume they pay. Probably more than enough to cover the cost of flying the presenters etc. to all the races.

    5. who cares about bbc4 anyways? The channels commissioner must be drunk or high all day to green light half the crap they show.

      And +infinity to James Scantlebury

  6. This is easy :

    Sunday times is owned by murdoch ,who has an interest in taking over F1 . The paper quotes an UNIDENTIFIED SOURCE for their front page story .

    A sharp mind can figure out the motive behind this story .

    1. Option 1: Murdoch is preparing something which will give F1 to him;
      option 2: Murdoch is trying to persuade the BBC to leave F1 to him.

    2. Well the stage is yours, or anyone, explain how in your mind this story materially helps Murdoch.

      I see a lot of over-excited Murdoch Derangement Syndrome in these comments, but nothing explaining the actual mechanics of how this report actually helps Sky Sports acquire F1 for less than market-rate.

      – If BBC Management has not already decided to drop F1, do you think this story will push them to do so? Against their will, how?
      – If they have in fact decided they will bid for F1 rights, do you think they will now change their mind and back-out because of this story? Why?

      How precisely does this presumed calculated campaign of nefarious News International misinformation affect the actualities of any BBC management decision one way or the other? I don’t see how it works.

      I think it is absolutely crystal-clear who’s pawprints are all over this BBC leak, and what their motive is.

      1. GL spreading misinformation about the cost of programming is a sure way of getting “Disgusted of East Cheam” to put pen to letter and demand the money be better spent on other programs from East Enders to Opera.

      2. It’s exactly what group lotus have been doing for the last 10 years and more overtly the last 2 years. It just seems to be how some businesses do things these days. If enough people believe the lie maybe it becomes true? I don’t know ask murdoch why all his media outlets keep spouting this nonsense, it obviously must be worth something to him since he’s giving it air time on anything that gets views. He’d stencile “murdoch to own f1” onto a turd if he thought people would look.

      3. Ironically after GL implies that the OP @Digital Spy is a “BBC Apologist”, GL themselves sound like an apologist for Murdoch and his propaganda…

  7. The article stinks of bad sportsmanship really.
    Rupert Murdoch owns try Sunday Times for god’s sake!
    And then they claim to be in the know for the exact price the BBC are paying for the rights, highly unlikely they’d know that.
    Before further reducing the credibility of the whole article by giving viewing numbers. Which, if you took the highest value they claim, undercut Monaco, and Spain of this year by 2 million…
    If it was just Monaco, one could say “okay Monaco is full of history, so get’s more viewers than normal”. But Spain aswell?! The traditionally boring GP (granted, not this year)! Ripest should sit down and zip it. That is all.

    1. DAMMIT. So, I wrote my comment and posted, and in that time “James Scantlebury” wrote a more in depth and better written version of what I was going to say.
      5minutes wasted ha

    2. The article stinks of bad sportsmanship really.

      We are talking about Rupert Murdoch here. Is it really so surprising that his organisation is doing this? He’s got a documented track record of it in America, trying to influence the political scene. He’s even doing it in Australia, with a hyper-conservative newspaper columnist getting his own ‘talking head’ program. No doubt you can find examples of this and more happening in England without having to look too hard.

      1. Murdoch’s dodgy dealing runs a lot deeper than that. Few people have ever played the game as dirtily as Rupert.

        1. Except maybe Bernie… :)

  8. This gives Bonkers Bernie a bit of a problem. The BBC currently pays him £40m a year for the rights. If the Beeb drops out there’s no way ITV will step into the void – advertising revenues are really soft right now so thay don’y have the cash. And, of course, there’s not way Rupert is going to even think about giving Bernie a single penny. Better to spend the £40m on buying the whole sport setting up an alternative premier motor sport event.

  9. Sorry, one other major point: what the beeb pays for Formula 1 TV rights is a bit of a guide for every other broadcaster on the planet. If other national broadcasters get the idea that auntie beeb is not prepared to cough £40m/yr in the world’s most F1 fanatical country, then why should Outer Mongolia begin to even entertain the idea of paying anything remotely close to this sum on a per capita basis?

    Bernie and CVC Capital Partners can’t be very happy with this news. It might have just wiped several billion off the value of their F1 “asset”.

    1. Sounds like just the thing Murdoch would want then …

    2. Whilst it’s not ideal for everyone to know how much the BBC is paying for F1 it’s not a secret and it won’t affect the value of F1.

      The rights are sold nationally and therefore how much the BBC spend on the broadcasting rights does not affect how much any foreign TV stations spend on them. They should be concerned with how much other domestic broadcasters are willing to pay for F1 rights.

  10. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if the BBC didn’t bother with it. It is expensive, even if a lot of the figures quoted in the newspaper article are inaccurate.

    Thing is though…is anyone actually complaining about F1 soaking up all their TV License? I’ve not heard anything.

    Maybe I’m trying to find a problem where there isn’t one…but with the Olympics just around the corner and the amount of money that’s going to cost to televise on the BBC, people will be looking for them to tighten their belts afterwards…with F1 being the most obvious target.

    1. Maybe the Antiques Roadshow crowd who lost their show (which typically gets as many viewers on an average week as F1 does in a non-title-deciding primetime race) because the F1 overran…

      1. Gnarly Racing (@)
        19th June 2011, 13:20

        What’s their problem?! They got to see Michael Schumacher and Pedro de la Rosa, two antiques that are, no doubt, insured for way more than some old tea cups…

        1. That is hilarious.

      2. That’s just a one off sour grapes session. I doubt the Antiques Roadshow contingent would regularly kick up a fuss.

        I’d be just as perturbed as them if The Antiques Roadshow over ran and disturbed my F1 ;)

        1. There’s more of them than us though – and they cost less to keep happy…

        2. Perhaps if one of the teacups was particularly hard to price.

    2. Here is James Allens take on it, very interesting read. He concludes just about the same thing as you do

  11. I think this says more about how high Sky is willing to bid than whether F1 is going anywhere. It may be hoping that declaring a high enough bid may generate the same effect as 1995, where Bernie got a £70m bid from ITV (10 times more than the BBC was paying at the time) and simply said to the BBC “Unless you’ve been cheating me all these years, you can’t match ITV’s bid”.

    What Sky hasn’t counted upon, if it’s deploying that tactic, is that the negotiation situation has complicated since then. If there are two bids, Bernie has to consider both, if only for a nanosecond. Viewing figures per race worldwide dropped last year, with Britain being one of the few places to buck the trend. Also, by implicitly revealing the size of its bid, Sky may get counter-bids from unexpected parties. Perhaps ITV, perhaps Channel 4, perhaps some other pay TV channel. It may even make the BBC decide that nothing else gets ratings on a reliable basis every Sunday and match/beat the bid.

    1. It’s quite simple, really: ITV is in the doldrums and can’t stump up the money for F1. Other channels like 5 and C4 are even worse off. The specialist satellite/freeview channels that would have an interest in showing it can’t afford it and don’t have the reach Bernie wants anyway.

      Sky can’t get the rights because Bernie insists it should be free-to-air.

      The BBC is getting massive ratings, and sells its commentary to lots of other countries (offsetting the cost). F1 has been a huge BBC success story since 2009.

      Sky is therefore jealous, and can’t do much about it.

      Hence the rumourmongering about buying the sport, and what I’m sure will be the start of a protracted campaign of lies, inaccuracies, scaremongering, and polemic against the BBC. Same as the Mail, Express and other media outlets that compete with the BBC launching regular attacks against it whenever their interests can be furthered, or the BBC weakened.

      The truth of the matter is that BBC coverage is second to none in the world, that the BBC for any of its faults is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, broadcasters in the world, and that it does an incredible job on a tight budget in almost everything it does, serving a wide tranche of interests diligently, honestly, and with as little bias as possible. It doesn’t get everything right, but it’s leagues, parsecs, light years ahead of anything the commercial channels in the UK, or the horrors of many media outlets in the rest of the world ever offer us.

      I don’t even live in the UK and I’m eternally grateful for the BBC, what it produces, what it stands for, and how it works. If I could pay a licence fee for it, I would – by comparison, I wouldn’t pay the licence fee here at gunpoint.

    2. I’d say F1 on Sky is a no-go purely because viewer numbers are all F1 really care about. If sky who never publish viewing figures could get 1m viewers I’d be shocked.

      Cricket is the closest comparison. While free to air it was popular and grounds were full and the money rolled in. Now grounds are empty and their only income is Sky and that income is only going to fall with only 1 bidder for the live TV contract.

      1. BARB reports on Sky, so we can get some figures.

        In the week ending 05/06/2011, Sky Sports’ best show was the Reading v Swansea match, which got 961,000 viewers (nearly a million, which is probably what F1 would get if it went to Sky).

        The weeks before, Barcelona v Man Utd and Survival Sunday Special each got just under 1.5 million viewers (perhaps half what BBC gets for an early-morning F1 race this year).

        The best Sky Sports has managed in the last couple of months was 2.62 million for a football match that ran against the Turkish Grand Prix. Turkey got under 4.11 million (how many fewer is unclear because I don’t have a BARB subscription).

        1. Well it’s pretty obvious a “Free” channel is going to get more viewers than a subscription service.

          The Barca v Manu match is a bit of a miss since it was on ITV as well, if it was a Sky exclusive the figures would be dramtically different.

          I predict a chunk of viewers for the F1 are people who just leave the BBC on and watch whatever is on it as opposed to real F1 fans.

          1. You forget that how viewer numbers are calculated is by a group of viewers keeping a record of what they watched and then that being extrapolated to work out the general figures (that’s why you won’t viewing figures of 4,322,571 quoted – they can’t be that exact).

            What the BBC also has is iPlayer, I wonder what the total number of viewers once you include time-shift and iPlayer is? I know for Doctor Who it makes a huge difference (over 1m viewers).

          2. The Barca v Man U was that it was the highest rating Sky Sports got all that week; I was trying to figure out the consistent baseline Sky Sports can get (which seems to be around there). The absolute best score is in any case 2.62 million, which is probably as good as F1 could hope for with a Sky switch. The reason being that a lot of people either don’t/can’t have the equipment or can’t justify the extra subscription.

            Also remember BBC F1 figures fluctuate quite a bit, largely depending on what time of day it’s on.

  12. I’m in agreement with the majority opinion here: total BS.

    I mean, there are several reasons for the BBC to do so and knowing the BBC as I do they’re bound to make a short-sighted decision. But at this point it’s just wishful thinking rather than hard speculation.

  13. Thanks for cross-posting my post from Autosport and DS to over here James Scantlebury – appreciated.

    I see the Daily Fail have joined in with a rehash of Sunday Times’ article:

    1. That’s worse. That’s a hyperbolic reheating of a Guardian story (link: ) from 3 months ago…

  14. Kind of pathetic really. Creating the impression that F1 coverage from the Beeb is in big trouble, quoting inaccurate figures, and that ridiculous headline – making it seem as though F1 coverage has been officially dropped. This may be a crude attempt to mislead people, and I hope the BBC gives Murdoch the proverbial finger – it would be a great pity if F1 went the pay-per-view route.

  15. Not to mention that the BBC presumably makes a fair amount of money back from syndicating its F1 coverage to broadcasters abroad. I’m afraid I don’t have any details on the scale of syndication, but I’m fairly sure there are a few countries who make use of Brundle/Coulthard’s commentary.

    1. Oh, and it’s fairly curious that this is being reported now, seeing as it adds nothing new to a news story that’s several months old. Everything stinks of this being an old story reheated with some aggressive spin to facilitate Murdoch’s plan to acquire F1.

      1. it adds nothing new to a news story that’s several months old

        Yes, it does: it keeps the story going.

        What works better for Murdoch’s (supposed) bid: a story that has been dead in the water for months, or a story that has been kept in full view of the public, even if it has stagnated?

  16. The BBC is considering cutting back on F1 whilst continuing to spend £83m a year on BBC3. The channel that provides us with such gems as “Lee Nelson’s Well Good Show” and something called “World’s Craziest Fools” which I presume is a documentary about how the BBC is run…

    The BBC desperately needs to realign its priorities to programming that justifies its public funding. Covering a sporting series that is of huge cultural and economic importance to Britain ensuring it can reach a large audience seems a much better use of tax payers money than funding trash comedy and American TV re-runs that should be left to commercial TV.

    1. Spot on Ads!

      1. £83m ?? The channel is only on a few hours a day ?? And it is pure rubbish !! Crazy

    2. I really hope you get COTD :)

  17. I think even Bernie knows that to have F1 on anything but free to air TV in the UK would be insanity. It reaches the audience and actually gives good value for money. How much does Ascot, Snooker, Golf and Tennis (excluding Wimbledon) cost the Beeb per year. Are they getting value for money?

    I would say that F1 is one of few programs on the BBC which is actually worth while for them keeping. Considering how many teams are based in the UK, and the rich heritage we have here, it would be insanity to drop it.

    F1 coverage since the BBC have taken over in 2009 has never been better. They’ve listened to the fans and delivered every time.

  18. Last weekend’s Sunday Times attributed a front-page quote to John Prescott, which he had never made. They are not exactly top of the reliability stakes at present.

    That said, I hope the BBC don’t drop F1. We had to put up with ITV’s terrible coverage for far too long, it is obvious that the BBC is best placed to give F1 the high-quality coverage it deserves.

    1. To be fair, ITV did up the ante. Their coverage was pretty good, barring the advert breaks which were bloody aggrivating. If anything, we have to thank ITV for pushing the BBC further to give us the outstanding coverage we have had since 2009.

      1. Can you imagine ad breaks during this year’s racing?

        “Welcome back! While you were away, Jenson Button went up 15 places, back down 7, up 5, down 6 and finally up 14 to take the lead in a thrilling duel with Sebastian Vettel.”

        1. Pink Pirelli
          20th June 2011, 0:47

          LOL, COTD Jonathan189

    2. Gnarly Racing (@)
      19th June 2011, 13:39

      I dread to think what Sky would do to the coverage. Ad breaks back again but longer, hours of pompous suits sat in a studio telling us how excited we all are. Unless Swansea are playing Wigan at football, which would of course take priority.

      I bet they’d have Nigel Mansell as commentator too. Same as golf, cricket, football etc – they’d get the biggest celebrity from the 80s, never mind if they’re self-obsessed, boring or have other major character flaws.

  19. Here’s a question – how much does the Beeb make from “subletting” their stuff to other countries? Surely Sky would have difficulty doing the same thing?

    1. Several of Sky’s channels in other countries already host F1 in its own right. They could easily share a commentary team and production costs for all English-language channels. Therefore it would cost Sky nothing to have the channel. They won’t care if they lose 75%-90% of the audience because even a tenth of the pie is better than nothing.

  20. F1 is the only reason i pay the license fee we are all told is an absolute legal requirement

    1. If you have no TV, don’t watch anything live over the internet and are willing to confirm this at a random time every year, you don’t have to pay the licence fee. Yes, I gather the people policing this can be pains in the neck, but the principle is there.

    2. As it is the only original live showing of a program on any TV channel that I watch, it will be another TV license that the BBC will lose.

      Any other sport program that I watch is by subscription, where needed, and I do it on line. Like I did with the Le Mans 24 hr race last week.

  21. Well i said a few months ago that F1 cost the BBC £1 a head, no one really believed me but i’m glad to have been proved right :)

    As for them dropping F1, i said then and i say now, they will not renew in 2013 so be prepared for ad laiden Sky coverage in the future. The teams saying it’s important to have F1 free to air is all well and good providing someone actually wants it.

    1. The more chilling scenario is that Murdoch’s money is enough for the teams to support themselves with minimal sponsorship. Then he’d have F1 by the balls.

    2. You’ve been proven wrong.

      The population of Britain is 62 million.
      The cost of F1 is £200 million for five years, therefore £40 million per year.

      Therefore F1 costs only 64.5 p per person. To put that into perspective, BBC3 costs £1.33 per person.

      There’s no point in most of us preparing for ad-laden Sky coverage since most of us don’t have the equipment to access it and are unlikely to do so due to using Freeview or Freesat to convert to digital. If that happens then expect the number of people following F1 to drop by between 66% and 75% simply due to equipment.

      1. Max the cat is (about) right.
        You take only the licence costs into account. You have to pay for the rest also (see my earlier reply to the mega comment).

        Then you get at 300 million and that is 60 million per year, so £ 0.97 a head.

        Hear me out, I say it’s good value, but everybody seems to think that only the licence costs money. Which makes the facts in this discussion of the same ‘quality’ as the Sunday tomes fact finding…

        1. tomes = Times

          1. tomes works

        2. The rest has to be paid for but it’s nowhere near £100 million. It would surely be below £1 million per race – it cost the BBC that to produce the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics combined. That entailed sending 150 staff, their equipment and fund all the production and living costs (4 weeks altogether, about half the length of a season).

          Assuming there are around 50 people in the BBC F1 crew (as many staff there as for a F1 travelling team) and the staff at home generate equal costs in editing, production and facilities like subtitling, that would be £1.3 million production costs for a whole season of F1. That’s why the production costs are being ignored – they’re a drop in the ocean compared to the fee.

          1. The actual filming and production is done by the local TV company, all the BBC does outside the UK is send a couple of people to do the pitlane interviews etc. the commentary crew are back in the UK studio commenting on what they see on the multi-channel transmission. At least that is how it works in most countries.

      2. Interestingly, the Queen costs the taxpayer 62p a year.

        So F1 costs us 2p more than the Queen…

  22. It really is shocking reporting. It demonstrates exactly why it would be bad if Murdoch got hold of F1

  23. If anyone still needs a good reason why Murdoch shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near F1, look at how the Murdoch-owned Fox network presents the sport:

    Hilarious, but not for the right reasons.

    1. I could not watch all of that. My god, it was disgusting.

  24. It’s a sad news I have only seen one race so far of them & I liked their coverage.

  25. marc connell
    19th June 2011, 13:26

    I dont care, as long as i can watch it on freeview and its free im happy.

  26. I think while this propoganda from Murdochs toy publication initially seems like bad news I think the idea may back fire. CVC Do not want to sell F1 especially as it is now entering a period of increased revenue and profitability as more markets are becoming open to their exploitation. The BBC coverage has proven excellent and popular around the world, this enhances Bernie and co’s position, and Murdochs transparent attempts at devaluing F1 will only result in strengthening the relation ship between FOM and the Beeb.
    However as a protest I would cancel all SKY subscriptions, I have already switched supplier for all my comms from Sky to Virgin and I although a football supporter I would cancel my Sky Sports package if Murdoch continues his assault on F1, I have no faith in anything that corporation does. And other than Simpsons reruns does nothing for me. (Even now I prefer Family guy and American Dad on BBC3)

  27. Keith used to publish the annual figures,

    And from the Guardian in March ( they say each live episode of Eastenders costs £696,000, for 30 minutes.

    1. I can only ever remember Eastenders doing one live episode, all the others are taped.

      1. The unofficial target for prime-time (6 pm-10 pm) taped drama (of which standard Eastenders presumably counts) is a maximum of £1m per hour.

  28. Well done Rupert Murdoch for not only putting F1 through the ringer but also the times. What he needs to get is:

    A) F1 fans dont want to pay to view the races on a channel which will basically be like ITV with hundreds of breaks in the coverage.

    B) the Beeb are doing a great job, i hope that they do renew their contract if poss because it would be a really shame if it went to Sky/ITV

    one thing i do know is that it is getting boring that News Corp are trying their hardest to upset everyone who enjoys F1, the morons

    1. What he needs to get is:

      … Do you honestly think Murdoch cares about the fans?

      A lot of people criticise Bernie for his supposed greed (not realising that a lot of the money from circuits gets put back itno the sport). But should he take control, Murdoch will make Bernie look like Mother Theresa.

      1. Pink Pirelli
        20th June 2011, 0:58

        You got that right. On behalf of the people of Australia, I’d like to apologise for inflicting Murdoch on the rest of the world. I know he fired us in favour of the Yanks years ago, but we still feel somewhat accountable :(

  29. Some of Jake Humphrey’s Twitter updates from the past hour or so:

    Lots of ‘Sunday Times’ questions. SO MANY inaccuracies in that article. F1 does incredible business on the BBC-it’s spiritual home! #bbcf1

    I’ve no inside info on it’s future…but I know little else gets the audience share and the millions that we do. #bbcf1 is a huge success.

    It appears that this is news to the BBC as well.

  30. If the BBC do drop F1 whoever takes over better make it free to view on Virgin Media

  31. Eurgh… Rupert Murdoch. ‘Scuse me while I die a little inside.

  32. According to figures published by the BBC last month, the Monaco Grand Prix saw a peak of 6.1 viewers, an increase of 400,000 on 2010…

    A peak of 6.1 viewers? That’s one family and their dog..typo Keith? Especially if 6.1 is an increase of 400,00, that would mean -399,993.9 people watched it last year.

    1. Last year the BARB figure for Canada was 5.31 million on average. I didn’t look for a peak figure and this year’s equivalent average isn’t due out until tomorrow.

  33. Devil’s advocate:

    I think there really is something a bit dubious about a publicly-funded broadcaster paying £40m+ a year for the rights to sports coverage.

    I love the BBC coverage, but I honestly don’t see how they can seriously justify paying that much. Commercial broadcasters like ITV and Sky have money to burn on that kind of thing, because they need to maximize their advertising revenues.

    But the BBC is basically just taking money from ordinary people and channelling it straight into the hands of Bernie Ecclestone.

    1. You can say that about anything that the BBC spends the license money on.
      You’re basically saying they shouldn’t carry any sport if you follow that logic. That’s pretty much the only reason I pay the license!
      Some people like sport, some people like Tellytubbies. They’re trying to please everyone but maybe that’s not possible.

    2. Isn’t the logical conclusion of that argument that BBC should only broadcast programming it makes itself?

      I’m not saying I’m for or against that position, but that by the same argument the BBC should not broadcast any sports, or indeed many other programmes it buys in.

    3. It costs more ~£55m to waste money on BBC4, a channel that attracts less viewers than the few hours of F1 coverage. If people have to pay the license fee, which increases almost every year, at least broadcast what they want.

      1. Follow that argument closely and you end up with nothing but so called reality shows,talent shows,and celebrity gossip as seen on the commercial channels as apparently that is what the majority of people want. We should insist that publicly funded TV provides an alternative choice for people who have other interests, like motorsports, science, literature, classical music the commercial channels provide all the dross their viewers want.

        1. Follow that argument closely and you end up with nothing but so called reality shows,talent shows,and celebrity gossip as seen on the commercial channels as apparently that is what the majority of people want.

          Except that a excess of such shows doesn’t mean the majority will watch all of them. Of course we wouldn’t want too many “reality” or “talent” shows.

          We should insist that publicly funded TV provides an alternative choice for people who have other interests, like motorsports, science, literature, classical music the commercial channels provide all the dross their viewers want.

          I referred to the viewers wanting F1, which attracts such high figures despite being televised only 19 weekends a year. The schedules of BBC1, 2 and 3 should still be able to provide ample variety (with proper management) like the genres you mentioned, if BBC4 was to be axed.

          1. Your right David,having identically themed programs competing for viewers at peak times as happens all over the worlds commercial networks will not be watched by everybody but the program director protects his back, citing viewing statistics, by scheduling like for like programming giving us “130 channels and nothing to watch” syndrome, you need independent thinkers to program for a non-majority group of viewers.

  34. It’s still a complete mystery to me why people are willing to take these claims so seriously after they’ve repeatedly been demonstrated as misleading at best and outright fabrications at worst.

  35. One point that doesn’t seem to have been factored in, is how much the BBC claw back from the ~50 countries that use the BBC coverage.
    Because if you think about it in comparison to the 2 – 3 million quoted per race, if the BBC sells on to 50 countries at £50k/race then it has just recovered £2.5 million. (the £50k figure is just my guess use your own figures for a better estimate)

  36. Conclusion: don’t ever believe anything Murdoch-owned media tell you about the BBC because Murdoch’s entire purpose is to pull the BBC down and apart so he can make more money.

  37. To those that believe Rupert Murdoch is not interested in F1, my advice to you is to stop deluding yourselves.
    You only have to look at what the Sky/Barclays Premiership pairing has achieved over the years in terms of performance and profitability. The BBC is left with the FA Cup and the World Cup which is only held every four years. The ITV gets the Champions League, and although that is big, the Premiership is a weekly thing and in some cases twice weekly, nine months a year.
    The big advantage Sky have is their dedicated sports channels, which could easily host F1 broadcasts. As we saw in Canada, the BBC came under fire when their live broadcast overlapped and interupted other shows on the schedule. In other words, the BBC is always going to be more restricted than Sky.
    An interesting point made is the fifty million viewers outside of Britain that recieve the BBC’s superb coverage. I can see Murdoch seriously attempting to take over the rights to Formula One, so he becomes the sole broadcaster globally. In America he already owns Fox Tv (parent company to Speed Tv) and the ESPN networks (probably the biggest sports network in America), to use just one example.
    I agree that this aspect depends on Bernie Ecclestone and how much longer he remains in charge, as he is no spring chicken, but then again neither is Murdoch.
    In Murdoch though I see many simularities with Ecclestone. Both are extremely rich, ruthless businessmen who once they set their sights on something 9 times out of ten get what they want.
    I would be disappointed in the BBC if they decide to pull out, so soon after getting the rights to show F1 races from ITV. But I fear that if Sky do get Formula One, it would be yet another nail in the coffin for the British license payer. We get so little quality sport on these channels as it is!

  38. If you would like to help try and stop this please follow

  39. Is this quote from the Sunday Times printed by the Murdoch Toilet paper Groupe mean that Sky F1 has not been a success and that James Murdoch is trying to remove the cpmpetition. I must say the BBC Coverage has been excellent. Martin Brundle was getting to be a right self opiniatrd bore, at least David has more idea about modern F1. Keep going BBC F1 you are doing a great job.

  40. Thank god they still show F1

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