Ecclestone: BBC was obstacle to free-to-air deal

F1 Fanatic round-up

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In the round-up: Bernie Ecclestone says the BBC stood in the way of a deal with another free-to-air broadcaster.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Ecclestone: My hands were tied over BBC/Sky deal (Daily Mirror)

“I spoke with ITV too, and came up with the same problem as Channel 4 had. We had a contract with the BBC which didn’t run out until 2014. We couldn’t very well do a deal with other people for them to start doing ??something next year, because we had that contract.”

Kolles: HRT not planning to join FOTA (Autosport)

“To my knowledge, FOTA is just a name and it’s not really existing if you take it in the real world.”

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Comment of the day

TribalTalker thinks FOM can learn from Codemasters when it comes to filming races:

Great gameplay video clip compilation. Very realistic, the easiest way to tell it’s game footage is that the camera angles are way better than reality. Come on TV people! Improve your coverage – games can show you the way!

From the forum

A great question from Fer No. 65: what is the best sound in motor sport?

Happy birthday!

Happy birfthday to Woffin and kozo.higashi!

On this day in F1

Two years ago today the F1 teams’ association agreed not to use KERS in 2010. They dropped the agreement this year:

Author information

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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129 comments on “Ecclestone: BBC was obstacle to free-to-air deal”

  1. I find it hard to believe the BBC held the upper hand in negotiations when they will have broken the original contract by not wanting to pay the full amount for the years left on it. Ecclestone could have just said as he speculated about before: “I can’t see how the BBC could cancel [its contract early]. We could probably sue them.”.

    He could have said, either the BBC show the coverage as before for the last years of the contract or we fine them and show it on Channel 4 or ITV.

    Whatever Bernie says now we may as well just assume the opposite as that is much more likely to be true.

    1. It’s pretty obvious that the BBC needed to make some cutbacks and F1 was always going to be in the firing line.

      1. The good old totalitarian tiptoe. The plan is and has always been to get F1 on pay TV. Would not be surprised if the idea was to get the BBC sucked in for a long term contract, knowing that they would be worried about the cost. Then pay TV steps in as an excuse. Next step is every race will be on pay TV. Everyone hates it, but what are we going to do about it? Nothing! The only way anything would happen would be if everyone with pay TV stopped paying for it, and I can’t see that happening….

        1. The plan is and has always been to get F1 on pay TV.

          Got any proof of that?

          Because the Concorde Agreement says otherwise. If Bernie was so intent on getting Formula 1 on pay-per-view, he would have changed the relevant clauses in the Concorde years ago.

          And yet, he did not.

          1. I’m sure it has always been in the back of Bernie’s mind, and now it is happening. At the end of the day, its Bernie who is getting what he wants, while everyone else misses out.

          2. Oh, you’re “sure” about it then? Right, there’s no need for any evidence then. What was I thinking?

            Have you ever met Bernie? Do you have an existing, working relationship with him? Does he tell you what he is thinking? Does he ask for your opinion?

            If the answer to just one of these is no, then I have another question for you: what makes you so qualified to understand the thoughts and actions of a man you have never met?

          3. PM, Who’s responsible for it being moved to pay TV? I mean really, who does the buck stop with?


            So, ask yourself, how sure are you that ivz is wrong?

            Pay TV puts a lot of money into his and his friends pockets. You can’t be telling me you haven’t noticed that’s how Bernie rolls can you? (See, I’m gansta)

            Anyway. What I’m saying is, Pay TV in what it does for (to) F1 is very very much in line with Bernie’s typical agenda. In fact, not only would I argue that ivz is right. I’d also argue the very reason the clause was in the Concorde agreement in the first place was to stop him doing just that. Putting F1 on pay TV.

          4. So, ask yourself, how sure are you that ivz is wrong?

            Quite sure – because ivz himself cannot be sure he is right. Unless he knows Bernie personally and Bernie has told him that he has always intended for Formula 1 to be on Pay TV, ivz has no claim to knowing Bernie’s state of mind or his intentions.

          5. Are you sure?

            At the very least he’s had an interesting idea*. I’m sure**.

            *from my perspective.
            ** so far that reality*** is actually as I understand it.

            *** my perception of reality.

          6. Maybe Bernie always did plan on having Formula 1 move to pay-per-view. But unless he told ivz this, ivz has no way of knowing for certain.

          7. ivz’s speculation is as good as anything.

            He just forgot to preemptively pepper his comment with loads of the “I think / imho / my two cents” etc. stuff to satisfy the self-important anal retentive among us (as hinted brilliantly by Mike).

            As no politician, billionaire, CEO, or any kind of decision maker will keep us updated of his plans in a documented way, most of the time we speculate.

            But PM obviously has a problem with that.

          8. Bernie has had F1 on pay-per-view in many countries before Britain. It’s simply that the Concorde Agreement only protects “major markets” and until now nobody’s dared argue with Bernie on the definition of a “major market”.

            It would appear that to Bernie, the UK isn’t that major a market…

          9. OH they still count it as a major market. Just they have said F1 only has to be free for “some” of the races. (hence why bbc still have half).

            Of course…
            What happens when the BBC contract runs out?
            They can’t justify it only being on Sky…. Can they?

          10. Prisoner Monkey, I think you’re clutching at straws here.

            Yeah but they are awesome straws, he’s using stolen underwear anecdotes to prove his point, the man is a legend.

          11. I think Bernie is smart enough to know that pay-TV isn’t the best way forward. You decrease exposure to sponsors.

          12. Pretty sure keith reported that bernie cleverly worded the concord agreement so that F1 couldn’t be shown solely on pay-tv….

            So i could be shown all live on pay tv with the highlights and 1 live race on Free to air (and that’s if only highlights wouldn’t satisfy the clever wording)

      2. yes they did need cutbacks coz that new hq up north aint free (£900 million cost)

    2. I can’t see how Bernie, as he is, would allow a change of the terms under which they fulfil the deal without supporting it. Otherwise, whoever wrote up the contract was stupid enough to allow the BBC to do whatever they wanted without consequence, and I doubt Bernie would have allowed that either. Calls of conspiracy are well founded as I can’t imagine the BBC were allowed to take up F1 but with the option to sell off half the races to whoever they wanted when they got bored with it.

      1. Otherwise, whoever wrote up the contract was stupid enough to allow the BBC to do whatever they wanted without consequence

        But when was the last time we had a situation like this, where a broadcaster decided they didn’t want the rights to the sport anymore?

        We all remember Monaco 2010, when Schumacher got penalised for overtaking Alonso. Ferrari and Mercedes read the rules two different ways, and approached the stewards for clarification. The stewards agreed with Ferrari’s interpretation, and then changed the rulebook to reflect this. They did it because the sport had never seen such an incident before, and the rules were unclear. The loophole needed to be closed.

        It’s the same thing here. The contract between FOM and the BBC assumed that the BBC wanted to keep the rights to Formula 1 until 2014. They obviously didn’t, and so explored other options. If you look at the deal between Sky and the BBC and compare it to the one between the BBC and FOM, then no doubt the BBC’s plans for 2012 will still meet all of the criteria set out in the original contract with FOM. And they can do that because nobody at FOM ever figured that this was a scenario that could play out, and thus there was nothing written into the contract to prevent it from happening.

        1. I would expect a financial contract (especially one involving Bernie) to be considerably more air-tight than sporting regulations. I would have thought one of the most simple stipulations would be that all the races are shown by the BBC live.

          If you are right and it simply wasn’t covered in the deal, then you have to conclude that the majority of blame for this deal lies on FOM for not writing a contract that specified free-to-air races (although I still maintain that the BBC has acted against the fans in viewers by turning to sky- they could have probably turned to another channel but wanted to keep their finger in).

          1. you have to conclude that the majority of blame for this deal lies on FOM for not writing a contract that specified free-to-air races

            Without knowing the exact terms of the original arrangement that allowed this to happen, it’s pretty difficult to go assigning blame for anything.

          2. You can if it wasn’t covered in the deal (as you speculated that it wasn’t a scenario planned for by FOM). If it wasn’t covered in the deal, it really ought to have been. Under those circumstances, I’m saying it would be FOM’s fault for not providing a better contract.

          3. You can if it wasn’t covered in the deal

            But you don’t know the terms of the deal, so how can you go assigning blame? As you point out, we can only speculate.

            An analogy for you:

            When I was in the fifth grade, we went on school camp. During one of the activities, all the girls’ rooms got ransacked. Some of their underwear went missing.

            At the time of the incident, there were four people missing: myself, another student, and two of the teachers who had gone to a nearby hospital when one broke his ankle. Everybody else was in the one place.

            I remember that I was halfway between the accomodation and the hall where everyone was meeting; I’d forgotten a prop for the skit night we were holding. I was gone for three minutes at the most. The other student was unaccounted for for considerably longer.

            When everyone returned to their rooms, the girls found that someone had been through them. Being a bunch of eleven-year-olds, everyone began to speculate. There were two students missing at the time of the episode, and naturally, they began to look guilty. One boy in particular fancied himself as a regular Lenny Briscoe, and started ‘investigating’. Which is to say, he assigned blame. I still remember him saying “Right now, I’m pointing nine fingers at Blake and one finger at you”. By the end of the trip, he was convinced that I’d done it and started telling everyone that I was to blame.

            They never actually caught the guy who did it. However, I ran into my fifth-grade teacher a few years ago, and she admitted that one of the employees of the resort we stayed at was discreetly fired, and was later arrested for trying to solicit two sixteen-year-olds for sex. The school covered it up from the parents.

            Wow. That was much longer than I anticipated. But it still highlights my point: that boy who was so convinced I had done it had no way of knowing for sure. He could only speculate as to what had happened. And yet, he started apportioning blame based on what he believed had happened, and also because he didn’t want to see his friend – Blake – take the fall. It eventually came back to haunt him when he accused me doing ransacking the rooms and stealing the underwear in front of the worst person he could have possibly done it in front of, unaware of who she was: my mother.

            He didn’t go to my school in year six …

          4. Yes but I’m not going up to Bernie’s face and telling him I think I’m lying. This is a matter which affects the public and doesn’t really have any relevance to face-to-face finger pointing. If this has been allowed to happen I don’t see why there is harm in trying to see where things went wrong.

            All I’m saying is (and I really can’t emphasize this any more) that if the contract allowed this deal to arise (which it clearly has, hence an early change from the standard, and an extension to the contract), then perhaps the contract should have been more restrictive. If we go to your analogy, that is the equivalent of the boy not accusing you of stealing, but simply making a statement that ‘nobody should have been able to steal those knickers.’

          5. My god, I can’t edit anything successfully- only perhaps is meant to be bold. This is why even a 5-minute edit button would be just about the only thing this site could improve on lol.

          6. Prisoner Monkey, I think you’re clutching at straws here.

            The FOM contract would definitely have get-out clauses for the change has occurred. For what you’re saying to happen, the BBC would have basically resold the TV rights to a share-deal with Sky.

            Sure, they may not cease the contract if they still get their money (and the long-term future looks good), but they will have had options on veto-ing the Sky link up and suing the BBC had they not proceeded with the original contract.

        2. But when was the last time we had a situation like this, where a broadcaster decided they didn’t want the rights to the sport anymore?

          Late 2008 with ITV. Bernie’s blessing was needed for the swapping of rights between ITV and BBC (ITV took a load of football the BBC didn’t want due to relatively low viewing figures, the BBC took a load of F1 ITV didn’t want because it couldn’t sell advertising for it).

          So there is precedent for Bernie’s influence being needed. Hence why I have precisely zero faith in Bernie’s statement of self-absolution.

          1. I was going to write just about the same!

            I do think the situation with the BBC wanting to get rid of it, to save the fee, while never going to risk having to pay any penalties for bailing out, made the discussions harder to do, as it narrowed down the options for all involved.

            Bernie told the BBC they would have to pay, so it was clear for the BBC they could just as well keep part of the coverage costing them about the same, but having the viewers. Sky gets in this way (Bernie does not seem to mind that at all), so all 3 are satisfied.

            But it is highly doubtfull this is the best possible deal for the sport in the UK.

          2. Good that someone has a memory. ITV wanted out with 2 years to go. And the change required FOM approval. Hard to see how this current deal went down without FOM approval as well.

            And to address a point mentioned earlier, yes the Concorde says F1 must be on free-to-air. But the Concorde expires after 2012, and Bernie is already on record as seeing no need for another Concorde Agreement. So, in 2013, welcome Pay TV for F1. Shouldn’t surprise me at all if that deal is already drawn and signed.

      2. Also, I assume that the contract they did have allowed the BBC the option of extending their contract (under whatever terms) and that it wouldn’t be reviewed with FOM or CVC or whoever it is, seeing as the original contract was only till 2014. Otherwise Bernie must have approved the Sky deal for 2015-2018

        1. That doesn’t mean Bernie is being less than honest. According to Paul Hembrey, there was a period of several weeks where there was not goign to be any free-to-air coverage for Formula 1. Then the Sky-BBC deal was negotiated. When it was presented to him, Bernie no doubt saw that the arrangement would keep Formula 1 being broadcast in the short-term, but Sky would only commit to it if there was a long-term contract in place.

          1. But there probably would still have been free-to-air races as ITV and Ch4 had both shown interest. If the BBC had dropped it early I would be surprised if neither channel had taken it up for 2012. If Bernie did allow the deal only on the proviso that sky and the BBC share till 2018, then he did ignore the interest of Ch4 and ITV. If you’re suggesting that Bernie did have to approve the deal, then that must mean that what he says in the article about the contract standing in the way was untrue.

          2. If Bernie did allow the deal only on the proviso that sky and the BBC share till 2018, then he did ignore the interest of Ch4 and ITV.

            Except that the BBC still had the contract until 2014, and that was the one thing Bernie couldn’t get around. He couldn’t give the rights to Channel 4 or ITV unless the BBC opted out of the contract first. FOM couldn’t break the contract with the BBC, because then they would be in the wrong, and that would get them nothing.

            If you’re suggesting that Bernie did have to approve the deal, then that must mean that what he says in the article about the contract standing in the way was untrue.

            Bernie has to approve any contract that is signed. That includes the original one signed with the BBC. Which gives them the right to broadcast the sport. FOM supply them with footage, which they use at their discretion. So if Bernie denied the Sky-BBC deal, and if the BBC was intent on keeping other commercial networks out of the game as you have suggested, then the BBC could easily have decided to keep the rights, but not use the footage supplied in 2012, which would mean that there would be no coverage at all.

          3. In which case you are right. But in that situation I go back again to struggling to believe that the contract with the BBC didn’t actually have a requirement that the BBC show all the races. Perhaps it is odd for a company to not want to broadcast the races, but it’s something that really ought to be covered in a contract regardless.

            I also assumed that the biggest expenditure for the BBC was the original cost of the licence, and that filming and production were secondary to that, but I obviously have no real idea. I wonder what the breakdown of costs were, and if the main issue was for the BBC to spend less on production or just get help covering the license.

          4. The BBC probably could have shown no races for the remainder years of the contract but the KEY is and what they definitely had to do is pay what was originally agreed to FOM for them years.

            That is why at the beginning of this very long thread I said it was very hard to believe that the BBC had the upper hand in negotiations.

            Doesn’t matter what clauses are in contract, the main thing was they agreed to pay a sum for the coverage and whether or not they showed that coverage they had to pay the fee.

            Who has the power in contract negotiations if BBC have 3 years left and can’t or don’t want to pay the full amount for the remainder but if didn’t, Bernie could just sue them.

            That put them in very weakened position so it seems Bernie is spinning the usual rubbish.

          5. Unless the cost of production is so high that they would have seriously considered not showing any more races despite having paid for the rights. If the production costs massively outweighed the costs of the rights, then it might have meant they seriously would have dropped coverage but maintained rights, thus giving the BBC the upper hand in negotiations. But that seems fairly improbable.

          6. Ya matt90, that would be a reason but like you say its unlikely.

            If was anyway likely which can’t see how it would, you would imagine FOM had it covered in the contract so they couldn’t be put in that position.

            After all ITV also broke their contract early so I would be amazed if there wasn’t a lot of thought put into it, in case that happened again.

          7. There would have been no benefit to the BBC not broadcasting races had it not managed an alternative deal. Legally speaking, a commercial contract is binding unless indicated otherwise, so the BBC had the choice of paying the money and broadcasting F1 or paying the exact same money and not broadcasting F1.

            So in effect Bernie had a choice between (at least) two options, possibly three; have the BBC broadcast a sport it did not want to show for 2 years, the BBC/Sky deal and (possibly) the BBC/C4 deal. From F1’s medium-term point of view, either the all-BBC or BBC/C4 options would have been far superior to the BBC/Sky one due to the unlikelihood of Sky breaking even on the deal.

          8. Yeah Snowman and Alianora, this is one thing I was trying to say to PM, I can’t believe they wouldn’t have actually put together a competent contract in the first place.

      3. matt90 as you point out Bernie is in charge of contractual obligations,for which service he rakes off 50% of the income, so he was either dishonest (which no-one could possibly believe) or incompetent and should be sacked.
        PM, no need to get it from the horses mouth.

    3. Why are you all defending bbc, I thought everyone knew that BBC had the contract therefore the power of decision.

      1. I defend the BBC because it was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Out of the 3 parties involved in this deal, it appears to be the only one who benefits – but the benefit was garnered more for survival through demonstrating it can trim its expenses. I still don’t see what Sky or Bernie gets out of this.

        1. Do you only defend parties who benefit? Personally, I would prefer to defend the F1 fans. Sky, Bernie and the BBC have made their own beds, but we were faced with a fait accompli. Even if Sky and Bernie get nothing out of this, we’re the real losers.
          Who’s defending us?

          1. I defend what it makes sense to defend. If the system had been working properly, the fans’ interests would have been defended without anyone outside the 3 parties needing to have known they were ever under attack. The BBC was put in a position where it was forced to make savings quickly and it turned out it could divest the F1 quicker than anything else. The deal might not have benefited the fans, but at least there is some sort of logic to the arrangement.

            If the viewing figures are anything to go by, Sky has little chance of making this arrangement work for itself and a correspondingly low chance of renewing its contract (or completing it – note the last 2 British F1 contracts have been passed on 2 years prior to expiry). It should have put a bid low enough to account for viewing figures proportionate to its channels’ actual popularity in order to get a reasonable deal for itself. If it had done so, the bid would have been lower and Bernie might have remembered little things like his contractual rights. As it is, Sky is very likely to lose under the current arrangements.

            Bernie now faces a large drop in income from TV in 2018 (or 2016), which he can’t do anything about as he has now burned his bridges with every major British broadcaster. Nobody is likely to give him anything like the figures he wants because he’ll have overcharged 3 of them and prematurely snubbed the 4th. Five isn’t a big enough broadcaster to pay Bernie fees anyway, so that means much less money from the British market. It also means that other countries’ broadcasters will catch on and push Bernie hard to reduce what he charges them. Bernie will make much less money because of his mistake, so will the teams and thus F1’s downwards spiral begins.

            Now that the deed is done, we’re a bit stuck for immediate defences. All we can do is not get Sky (for many of us that’s a decision effectively made before this deal was done) and wait for the inevitable return to free-to-air in 2018/16. And try not to say “I told you so” too loudly when Bernie says “Pay TV doesn’t work. And no-one knows why*”.

            * – In 2002, the F1 Digital+ pay TV project foundered after one season. Bernie said afterwards, “Pay TV doesn’t work. And no-one knows why.”

        2. I’m not defending BBC but just stating that Ecclestone is trying to spin the usual rubbish when the facts indicate the opposite.

          There is no way BBC held the upper hand when they couldn’t or didn’t want to fulfill the contract for remaining years.

          They are paying less per year now than before so no matter what was wrote in contract that is the most basic thing.

          I think if the BBC just said they couldn’t do it instead of teaming up with Sky, Channel 4 would have the coverage. So they are to blame as much as anyone for the mess.

          Well summed up Alianora La Canta. Bernie gets more money, if there is less watching its the sponsors that suffer then the teams and that will only filter through to Bernie in years to come but the guy’s about 80 so nice move by him.

          I imagine Sky think F1 will increase there subscription base but at their prices and the ease nowadays of illegal streaming it’s going to be tough for them.

          1. Here here !
            Don’t get Sky. Watch F1 viewing figures tank. See how long it lasts before Bernie lowers the price enough for Bravo to take them…

    4. The BBC will still show half of the races. Probably with another free-to-air broadcaster such a deal couldn’t have been reached.

      1. It’s not clear how many races the BBC would have retained if Channel 4 had the rights. What is known was that Channel 4 offered considerably less than Sky for the deal.

    5. Not bothering to read all the comments. Too much vitriol.

      In case you’re wondering, the main reason why highlights is acceptable under the Concorde is… that’s how it was done before. They rarely showed live races in full before Nigel Mansell started winning races, with TV audiences usually getting bits of live races alongside other sports on Sunday Grandstand, or worse, delayed highlights. Even qualifying wasn’t always shown live until the Hill-Schumacher years.

  2. “My hands were tied over BBC/Sky deal”
    What do we expect from a sport where “Alonso is faster than you”, Red Bull didn’t use team orders in 2010, Alonso had nothing to do with crashgate, and there was nothing dodgy about the sale of F1 in 2006.
    And clearly the fans aren’t regarded as stupid by F1 insiders, because we’re always told the truth, and it’s obvious that this deal is the best for everyone concerned.

    1. Summed it up pretty nicely Pigeon.

      1. Nicely put Pigeon, Some of the statements about the TV deal make it sound like they think F1 fans can’t think for themselves.

        Bad enough to loose free-to-air-tv with no advertisements but to then be told its good for us and that we will welcome it by Ecclestone, Boulier, Parr, Whitmarsh, BBC etc gets a wee bit weird.

        Do they honestly think we are that stupid? F1 could do with employing some PR people with a brain.

        1. That’s the whole point of PR.
          Remember Ramilton and Monaco? Moaning about being black, and then he gets a telling off from the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes (sorry, I had to) PR department, and then gave a forced apology the next morning. Doesn’t mean he meant it, but we the public are expected to believe it.
          The same here with BBC/Sky etc.

    2. Did I detect a hint of sarcasm there Pigeon? ;)

  3. Can we also wish a happy birthday to my old man today! 46 and still going!

    Kolles’ comment is quite interesting. What power over anything does FOTA have exactly???

    1. Happy birthday, Craig-o’s old man!

      FOTA’s power is influential rather than directly authoritarian; it can suggest directions and methods into lots of powerful ears. Commands are not the only power in F1.

    2. Sure, give your old man a birthday hug from me Craig-o!

  4. Honestly, does anyone ever read Ecclestone quotes and believe they’re hearing the full truth? The man’s a compulsive liar.

    1. What I don’t understand is why having half the races on another free to air chancel wasn’t an option. If Bernie was so keen to have it free to air (as he’d have us believe). why can’t the Sky races be accessible to fans by being on channel 4 for instance?

      1. Well, that teaches me not to comment after reading only half the article. Can I have my egg now please?

        …. Still… Even Murry Walker has raised concerns… I’d go with what he said any day.

        1. Comparing Murray Walker & Bernie Ecclestone is like comparing Santa Clause & Hannibal Lecter!!

      2. @Mike as is written in the article, the BBC wouldn’t want their “competitors” in free to air broadcasting to get it.

        That really brings us to an important thing mentioned in that article about the BBC and watching viewer ratings

        The decision of BBC bosses to work with Sky ahead of Channel 4 and ITV raises questions over whether the taxpayer-funded broadcaster should be engaging in ratings battles with commercial rivals.

        I think it really is a central issue here. Why should BBC battle for viewers?

        1. “Well, that teaches me not to comment after reading only half the article. Can I have my egg now please?”

          I realized my mistake.

          Why should they? Well, it’s a public funded channel. They should do what is in the public’s best interest. (Even if it ultimately hurts them.) They are not a commercial TV network.

      3. Because the bbc did’nt want them to go to a rival free to air channel.

  5. I wrote up my original thoughts on the deal on my blog a couple of weeks ago, but for Bernie to say his hands were tied is ridiculous. As soon as the BBC decided to change the terms of the deal, they must have broken the contract – it is inconceivable that this level of change would have allowed. Therefore, Bernie had the opportunity to take F1 to Channel 4 as soon as the BBC broke the contract, rather than allowing the deal to go forward.
    There were multiple sensible solutions to this from the beginning – it’s a shame no-one could be bothered to investigate them.

    1. If the BBC really did break their contract with FOM, do you really think Bernie would have let it slide? He’s got a history of showing no mercy towards people who break contracts; case in point, Silverstone. You clearly do not know the full terms of the contract between FOM and the BBC, so how can you comment on it? There is obviously a clause or a loophole in there that allowed them to go to Sky and work out the deal without penalty.

      1. How do you know all of this and how did you get insider information about the details of the contract? Do you know Bernie personally? Does he call you at home?

        If the answer to either of these is no, then I have another question for you: what makes you so qualified to understand the thoughts and actions of a man you have never met?
        or the contents of a contract you never read?

        1. I see what you did there.

          What I am doing is speculating, which is about the most that I can do right now.

          1. I also have some knowledge of contract law.

          2. I honestly don’t follow. When I was speculating you suggested I shouldn’t be that with that panties-stealing analogy. Sure, you aren’t apportioning blame, but only because you don’t follow your speculation through to a speculative (but logical if you follow your thinking through) conclusion. You speculate that a loophole existed, but then don’t reach the conclusion that that loophole should have been closed off first. That is simply what I was doing- saying that FOM should perhaps have made the terms in the deal more specific if a loophole was allowed to exist.

          3. PM, we are all speculating. It’s all we can do.

            Also, Cacarella…. Well done mate. Well done.

          4. I honestly don’t follow. When I was speculating you suggested I shouldn’t be that with that panties-stealing analogy.

            No, I said that you shouldn’t go passing out blame on the basis of speculation, not that you shouldn’t speculate.

          5. (I’d also like to add my congratulations)

          6. You repeatedly take sections of what I say and ignore the rest so it conveniently fits. As I said, where else does the idea of a loophole existing take you other than that the loophole really shouldn’t have existed?

          7. Also, it is perfectly okay to pass out blame. It isn’t okay to speculate and then say ‘x is definitely to blame.’ But to say ‘x was at fault IF y is true’ or ‘x should have exercised better control IF y is true’ is simply basic logic.

        2. MagillaGorilla
          20th August 2011, 9:20

          Don’t you guys know, PM knows F1 better than us and if we argue one side he has to play the opposite. Bernie has had a few things in the recent past that show his greed for anyone to say otherwise is quite naive.

      2. What I would guess happened is that the BBC asked FOM to let them break the contract on the basis that they would immediately sign a new one jointly with Sky. As this new deal is believed to be for more money, FOM may have been willing to forgo a penalty for the BBC.
        Regardless, it was always going to have been in FOM’s power to refuse to agree to the new deal.

        1. It wasn’t just about changing the contract which maybe they could have done. Its the fact they changed the amount they were paying FOM for the remaining races.

          It doesn’t make any sense to believe Ecclestone here.

          1. Whatever amount of coverage they showed wasn’t the main problem it was the fact they would have broke the main thing the contract centered around. How much they had to pay FOM every year.

      3. PM, you might have some knowledge of contract law (I certainly have as well).

        But I cannot fathom the contract not having clauses telling exactly in what way a network can broadcast the footage, and find it highly unconcievable, that Bernie would not have limited those. Thereby making the BBC breach the contract if they sell to a PPV station without Bernies consent

        That would mean, that the BBC can propose this deal to him, but if he doesn’t agree, they can either do the deal as previously, having all races on the BBC, pay Bernie but not show the races, or be in breach and pay money to cancel the contract early.

        Then Bernie would claim money from the BBC, meanwhile talking with ITV and C4 for coverage. Sure it would be a period of uncertainty, and lawsuits. But its not as if Bernie did not have the option of doing so.

      4. So which is it PM is Bernie a liar or is he incompetent?

  6. Assuming Ecclestone is lying simply because you disagree with him is very poor form.

    I personally disagree with the inclusion of the safety car in F1 2011 – but that doesn’t automatically mean Codemasters is lying when they say they are doing everything to make the game a better experience for the player.

    The same goes here. Far too many people accuse Bernie of being a borderline criminal simply because they don’t like the decisions he makes. Insinuating that Bernie is corrupt without proof is libel. It’s the same as when everyone assumed USF1 had been an elaborate hoax or scam from the beginning simply because they failed to make the grid. If you publish something about someone that is untrue, then you’re liable. Worse, Keith is liable, and that’s a pretty poor way to repay him for the work he’s done. Yes, Ecclestone is under investigation for his involvement with Gerhard Gribkowsky, but that’s unrelated to the Sky-BBC deal, and we still live in a society where someone is innocent until they are proven guilty. He’s not a criminal simply because you disagree with him.

    The truth is that nobody here knows the terms of the Sky-BBC deal, or the original deal between FOM and the BBC. And until we do, the expression “empty vessels make the most noise” springs to mind.

    1. I’m also willing to bet that very few people actually read the article Keith linked to. Or at least, they only read the extract. If you read the full thing, Bernie makes it pretty clear that the BBC did the deal with Sky on their own time. FOM wasn’t involved. They tried to get involved, but the contract with the BBC was still in place.

      1. So whatever Bernie said must be true unless we have hard evidence that it is wrong.

        Well, Sky must be good for F1! Don’t you agree pm? Bernie said so.

      2. “FOM wasn’t involved”

        You’re kidding, right? How can you believe that! Man alive.

      3. I read the article and the more of it I read, the worse Bernie’s case looked. He has made several assumptions – not least the “other channels wouldn’t decide a fee until 2014”, which Channel 4 has refuted.

        Since the BBC were wanting to change the contract, Bernie had the right to refuse. If the BBC had insisted, he would have had the right to terminate the contract and charge the BBC for the full cost of F1 in 2013 and 2014 (except for any amount recouped from whichever channel(s) scooped up the replacement deal). That’s a mimimum and stipulations in the contract and/or precise jurisdiction may have entitled more recompense than that; varying the cost of a contract is one of the fundamental things which can be grounds for breach of contract, as anyone who’s tried to dodge a fare and been caught will confirm.

        As for saying the BBC held all the cards, that ignores basic contractual law. The BBC clearly held some but contract changes have to be mutual to avoid breaches.

        The “eyeballs” stuff is speculation not matched by BARB statistics. Sky Sports 1 hardly ever breaks the 0.5 million mark (the Manchester derby in football being the only recent exception), while BBC3 rarely gets over 1 million (there’s no confirmation that the highlights will be on BBC1 or BBC2 yet). Even if highlights are on BBC1 or BBC2, the Radio 5 Live contract means that many people will have listened to the race live and therefore have no interest in the highlights (example: the Sunday “highlights” edition of Come Dine With Me attracts half the viewers of the “live” ones in late afternoon mid-week, and that has the advantage of it relatively rarely being spoiled by internet news sources if missed live). The increase in viewers due to primetime, while significant, isn’t going to make up for losing half the viewers to Radio 5 Live (and possibly less legal alternatives). The BBC won’t care about R5L picking up so many listeners, but radio is on a different contract to TV and Bernie can’t re-negotiate that deal until the end of 2017. And the downside for Bernie is… …fewer eyeballs. Contracts involving earholes are more difficult for Bernie to negotiate, as demonstrated by the fact there are only 8 providers covering 9 countries, compared to the 40 providers covering nearly the entire world for TV.

        The precise combination hasn’t been tried on British TV before but a reasonable assessment would suggest fewer eyeballs.

        The question of whether the BBC dealt with Sky in its own time has no bearing on Bernie’s power in the BBC’s contract with him. Presentation of a new contract as a fait accompli does not negate the power of the old contract, nor does it exempt the party presenting it from undertaking either the obligations or compensation requirements in the contract. Without the FOM’s blessing (which as I discussed further up the page, was neither necessary nor beneficial to its long-term prospects), the BBC/Sky contract wasn’t worth the paper on which it was recorded.

    2. Ah, but I don’t think people ever accuse Bernie of lying solely because they disagree. They accuse him of lying because it’s what people have come to expect from him.

      1. And yet, they have no proof of it. Certainly not in this case. They simply dislike the terms of the contract, and assume that Bernie is lying when he says he had nothing to do with it and no power to prevent it.

        But whether or not people expect Bernie to lie is moot point. If they accuse him of criminal activity – or insinuate, as several people have already done – then it is still libel. The law doesn’t make a provision for peoples’ expectations of another person’s behaviour. Certainly not one that would exonerate them from wrongdoing.

        1. I pretty much agree. But it is a default stance, and it’s because although there may be no proof, there are often confusing holes that seem left out, and in trying to understand those holes a little conjecture never hurts anybody (unless Bernie reads this and sues us all for libel).

          1. Having read everything matt90 & PM have been dishing on this thread, I couldn’t help but think of this comic.

          2. Haha I think I genuinely had that comic in mind at one point last night. Absolutely love xkcd. However could I go to sleep letting somebody be ‘wrong’?

          3. I like the XKCD cartoon – and will admit to having been guilty of that a few times during my time on the internet…

        2. British law does make a provision for people’s expectations of another person’s behaviour, when taken to such an extent where the contested statement can reasonably (by judgement of a court of law) be taken as a default position for the individual claiming to be defamed (libel in Britain is a form of defamation and therefore subject to the defenses permitted for it). This is known as “defense due to claimant being incapable of further defamation”. It is not clear whether this applies to this specific allegation with regard to Bernie. False statements made in good faith are not deemed libellious under British law either but a court is entitled to proof that good faith applied and that it was not just a careless utterance.

          Maybe Australian law doesn’t have these provisions, because quite a few other nations don’t either.

    3. Contracts are binding unless both parties agree to alterations. That is a fundamental tenet of EU contract law (I have to be specific because in some countries, particularly the Middle East, large changes in circumstances can sometimes be sufficient grounds for alterations by both parties).

      If Bernie hadn’t agreed to the BBC/Sky deal (whether it was presented as fait accompli or not is irrelevant) then it could not have happened because Sky wouldn’t have received the necessary sounds and images to broadcast (or if it somehow had it would have got sued by FOM for illegal reproduction of its intellectual property). Instead the BBC would have been obliged to pay, irrespective of whether it broadcast F1 or not (BBC purchased the rights for F1 broadcast; FOM contracts with broadcasters are not rental arrangements the way Eurosport’s LMS coverage*, for example, is).

      Bernie had several options at the point the proposal was presented; negotiate a lower fee with the BBC, hold the BBC to its contract payment (which would likely have resulted in F1 on the BBC until 2014 due to lack of incentive to do otherwise), choose the BBC/C4 option, made the rights lie fallow for a year to show the broadcasters who was really in charge and garner “absence makes the heart grow fonder” interest or announce an open auction, selling the contract to the highest bidder. Note that all of those options would have enabled him to make up any difference from the BBC due to mitigation law (depending on the exact country of signature, either this would have topped up the total to the amount the BBC was originally billed or to that amount plus damages).

      Note that all this has been worked out using information in the public domain. No inside secrets are needed to know that Bernie held part of the power in the contract because every enforceable commercial contract leaves some power with each signatory. This principle is knowledge that, these days, is taught at secondary school because it’s essential to successful everyday living as well as the big stuff like this.

      The idea that Bernie might have forgotten the gist of his basic rights in his specialist field for several weeks in a row beggars belief, especially when remembering would have enabled him to make more money and make F1 benefit instead of lose out (whether that recollection had happened at the time the deal was presented, today or at some point in between).

      The Codemasters example is totally irrelevant since “better” is a subjective judgement – even if the only person who actually thought the SC improved the game was the person who said the words, the statement would be demonstrably true. Even if the SC’s programmer disagreed (provided the programming was not an act of sabotage, and that would be extremely implausible, even with the hypothetical additions I put onto the original example). Bernie’s statement was an objective item of information that is (easily) testable. It has been tested and found wanting.

      As it stands, Bernie will probably be alive and working in his current position long enough to see the TV empire he’s made crash down on his feet (or at least the beginning of said crash). The mistake he’s made here is likely to bring about a self-induced progressive downfall which everyone else in F1 will have a very hard time preventing from breaking F1 altogether.

      * – Specifically, the ACO has to negotiate an amount of airtime on Eurosport for the LMS and the amount it can get varies according to the channel’s other commitments. Therefore the amount exchanging hands depends on the amount of each race that is actually broadcast, not a set “per race” or “per season” deal as per FOM-administered single-seater racing.

      1. Thanks for writing this in detail. I fully agree on what you write about how contracts in general work.

        I even think Bernie has a clause in the contract forcing a broadcaster to show each race life + minimal amount of coverage (highlights) of qualli and maybe even FP sessions.

        1. I think the exact coverage mandated depends on the payment Bernie thinks he can get. For major markets the race and qualifying has to be shown live on a channel of some description and “extended highlights” on a free one – Martin Whitmarsh confirmed as much. Other sessions and on-track coverage cost extra, but probably* not as much as that initial obligation does. However any market not deemed “major” is subject to vary, as anyone from the USA will confirm.

          * – The “probably” bit is speculation. The rest I’ve read elsewhere.

          1. All very insightful. Thanks.

      2. Mark Hitchcock
        20th August 2011, 17:40

        Very insightful post, thanks Alianora.

        1. Mark and BasCB, you’re welcome :)

  7. Regarding Codemasters F1 2011, it appears that the new tyre smoke feature makes visible something that no doubt should have been kept hidden – 4WD cars.

    1. I’m not seeing it.

      Codemasters used to program their racing games – like the original Colin McRae Rally – so that the car moved on a central pivoting point, an archaic technique that no-one has used for years. As with many racing simulators today, F1 2011 uses a physics engine based around four points of contact between the car and the ground: the wheels. What you’re seeing as four-wheel drive is actually the physics engine showing the way all four wheels can move independently of one another, which is what allows you to lock one of the brakes in the first place.

  8. He said: “I think the two of them will eventually do a good job. Sky aren’t going to get the live viewing figures that we had with the BBC, but I think with the combination of the two across all the Formula One that is ­broadcast there will be a lot more viewers.

    2 + 2 = 5 right Bernie?

    If Bernie is going to halve the viewers on half the races, does Bernie serious expect the people who follow the BBC coverage to actually increase? or even stay the same?

    No, it will drop dramatically. People don’t tend to react well to highlights shows Bernie. And you know what ****** me off most? He knows that. He’s standing in from of me, straight faced, telling me that the sky is green. And he actually expects me to swallow it…..

    Worse still, some of the people standing next to me are swallowing it…

  9. ‘They wanted to renegotiate their broadcasting rights into a shared deal with another network, but simply didn’t want to share the sport with a terrestrial rival.’

    I suspected this originally, and it confirms the BBC were prepared to screw over the fans and viewers for their own ratings. It is to expected I suppose. After all, it is business- but the BBC takes my licence fee and is to some extent a national service, so acting selfishly becomes more reprehensible. Before I would have argued that the range of programmes the BBC produces were of benefit to TV and probably worthy of the cost of the licence fee, but not if they help ship off a sport towards pay TV. Perhaps the new added cost of watching F1 should be taken from the licence fee, which seems fair. That’ll be £450 please BBC.

  10. Finally get to see “SENNA” today!

    1. You will love that film

    2. Spoiler alert! – He dies at the end

    3. Marvellous! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did :)

  11. “To my knowledge, FOTA is just a name and it’s not really existing if you take it in the real world.”

    the same could be said of your team.

    also there’s what i call the bernie ecclestone BS detector: touch the tip of your finger to the tip of your thumb and look through the hole. if bernie’s lips are moving, you are being BS’d

    1. +1 Harsh, but pretty much true. HRT has almost nothing of value save the licence to be in F1

  12. Bbc and itv not bbc and sky

  13. Why do people consider the BBC free to air television when you have to pay a the license fee to get it?

    F1 has never been on free to air in the UK, except for the few years it was on ITV, thanks to crappy coverage and numerous ad breaks.

    Granted, Sky is more expensive than the license fee, but give it a few years with F1 on the BBC, and the license fee will soon catch up with the price of a Sky subscription.

    1. Mark Hitchcock
      20th August 2011, 17:46

      By that logic, ITV isn’t free to air either. You have to pay a license fee to own a tv, not to watch the BBC.
      So with the Sky deal you’re paying twice. Once for the license fee, once for the ridiculously expensive Sky package.

      The thing is, with the license fee the government surely have the power to cap it. And if the BBC tried to raise it to unreasonable (read: Sky) levels then the government would step in or face losing votes.
      They have no such power over Sky. So just watch the Sky subscription rise and rise and rise.

      1. Mark, I think what you will see is not a large rise in subscription but the introduction of commercial breaks as per “Speed tv” in the usa 1 minute of commercials for every 2 minutes of content, and they have the hide to use some of those advertising minutes to advertise that they “show you the whole race live” in their F1 coverage, not only preaching to the choir but lying to their face.

    2. Because it is free to watch the BBC.

      Its not a BBC licence as Mark has pointed out. You have to pay the TV licence plus SKY a fee.

      Also some people are exempt from the TV licence so for them all terrestrial TV is 100% free.

  14. Ill be playing on f12011 when the races are live on sky!

  15. If Bernie’s version of events is correct, it seems to me that the BBC was desperate not to a do a deal that would benefit its free-to-air rivals.

    Another nail in the coffin of the idea that the BBC is anything more than another commercial entity, only with public backing. Especially when you consider what they’re doing with the money.

    1. Exactly, it’s despicable that a channel that is meant to serve the British viewer helped push F1 to sky just because they aren’t a direct competitor.

      1. You guys lost F1 for the voice?

        Wow O.o

        1. A worthy replacement for F1 (massive sarcasm). The X factor is so big that Cowell is able to take it to America so it can challenge American Idol, which as far as I can work out is identical and also comes from Cowell. So basically it is a show big enough to compete with an identical show without damaging either sets of ratings. Therefore it is such a huge franchise that does the BBC really have any chance of competing? No, therfore this is a waste of money. You have to give it to Cowell, he is a genius. If I tried to sell somebody a turgid product they already had anyway, I’d probably get a slap. He just adds to his riches.

    2. yup, I really think the govt should have a rethink of what the BBC should have as a target.

      It should be bringing quality news and good shows that others might not make.

    3. Absolutely agree Icthyes. The BBC are looking more and more like the bad guys every day. If it wasn’t for Sky’s massive price tag I’d be happy that F1 was leaving them.

  16. More lies coming out of Bernies mouth, no part in the decision? … I’m sure the BBC were allowed to completely change thief contract and extend it for another 4 years all on their own. I hope the Germans find him guilty and gets locked up.

  17. Pay TV is great for the rights holders but not for the sponsors. Therefore the teams would never agree to it. Somehow the door has been opened to pay TV… Bernie is a very clever man… Just saying.

    1. I agree, I can’t see why the teams would agree. And we haven’t even heard a peep? Something is up.

  18. Bernie can i smell something?? Such utter tosh, the BBC were breaking the contract by trying to wriggle out of it so saying they held all the cards is as mad as his sprinkler idea.

  19. The viewing figures for F1 in Japan have declined in recent years, and the decline has coincided with their adoption of a partial free-to-air and premium pay-TV model.

    I’m sure the sponsors will be unhappy with this deal. If the viewing numbers fall off at all next year, the likes of Santander will want to pay a bit less for their branding.

    1. It’s not ‘if’ viewing figures fall off but ‘when’ there is no doubt less people will be watching F1 next year and I’ll even go as far to predict an average of a million viewers per race next year. Sponsors will be paying a lot less.

      1. I think it will depend on which race it is – the ones which BBC do live will almost certainly beat a million quite handily. It’s the races Sky does live that will struggle (the BBC highlights, simply because of the time they’re on, may make a million though).

  20. The political pendulum is swinging to the right, regard the rise of the tea-party ( who regard Hitler as a socialist) in the USA, politicians now want to cripple Public services like the BBC so they can be replaced by commercial enterprises. Now the BBC tomorrow the National Health.

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