Channel 4 will take over from the BBC as the UK’s free-to-air F1 broadcaster, it has announced.
The BBC, which has broadcast F1 since 2009, has ended its current deal three years early. Channel 4 will see out the balance of the BBC deal screening half of the races live, beginning with ten in 2016.
Channel 4 has pledged not to screen adverts “through the duration of the live races”, a move which Bernie Ecclestone has endorsed.
“I am sorry that the BBC could not comply with their contract but I am happy that we now have a broadcaster that can broadcast Formula 1 events without commercial intervals during the race,” said the sport’s commercial rights holder.
“I am confident that Channel 4 will achieve not only how the BBC carried out the broadcast in the past but also with a new approach as the world and Formula 1 have moved on.”
Channel 4 chief executive David Abraham said Formula One has “huge appeal to British audiences”.
The BBC’s director of sport Barbara Slater said ending its F1 contract early would help the BBC’s sport arm provide the required savings of £35m.
“Any decision to have to stop broadcasting a particular sport or sporting event is hugely disappointing and taken reluctantly,” she said. “There are no easy solutions; all of the options available would be unpopular with audiences.”
The BBC scaled back its F1 coverage in 2012 in an earlier cost-saving measure, relinquishing live rights to half of the live races which were taken up by Sky. The pay TV broadaster’s coverage is unaffected by today’s announcement.
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