Channel 4 takes over from BBC as UK F1 broadcaster

2016 F1 season

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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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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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150 comments on “Channel 4 takes over from BBC as UK F1 broadcaster”

  1. I’m not living in Great-Britain but feel concerned. I just hope Channel 4 won’t be a downgrade in terms of broadcasting quality. Also hope they’ll recruit the BBC ‘F1 team’. Sad

    1. @jeff1s, to be brutally honest, many have complained that the quality of the BBC’s coverage has been declining sharply in recent years as they seem to have wanted to try and cover the sport in the cheapest way possible. If anything, it might be better for the coverage to switch to a new broadcaster that actually cares about the coverage – when did the BBC last propose showing material from their archives, for example?

      1. you mean like the F1 Rewind show that’s been running for the last few months showing highlights of 3 different races on a theme and introduced by Suzie and Murray Walker? #Imjustsayin

      2. Have to agree, I believe channel 4 really wanted F1 when the first sky deal was pushed through they even had a presentation prepared for it if I remember right. I believe channel 4 will do as good a job as the BBC and hopefully a better one. Hopefully they look at the contract in 3 years and decide they want to show all the races and can get it back on free to view so I can stop paying Sky.

    2. not fussed who has it as long as sky dont get theyre mitts into f1

  2. It is definitely more relieving news than anything.

    C4 have a massive challenge ahead of them as it seems that this has been put together very quickly. From how I read things, it seems as if C4 will be doing exactly what the BBC did with their coverage and without ad breaks during the races too. Hopefully plenty of the BBC team filter their way to C4.

    It is way too early for people to be claiming that C4’s coverage won’t be any good as I have seen on social media far too much already.

    I do not watch much sport on C4, but I thought that they did a really decent job with the Paralympics back in 2012, so I am optimistic that they will do a solid job with F1. I’ve made it clear in the past that I prefer the BBC’s coverage to Sky’s pretty poor attempt, so it is sad to see the BBC go really.

    I’m just glad that half of the races will remain on free-to-air. However that’s only half as many as what would be ideal.

    1. @craig-o Keeping the races ad-free is a good start and signals from the off they understand the sport better than ITV did.

      1. Very true. Was it channel 4 that offered to take all races but BBC did not want a free to air rival to have it so did the deal with Sky? If this was true it is a great shame as channel 4 get it now anyway but only half the races. Channel 4 are very good just look at their news channel so for me might be the best free to air channel to get this in the UK.

        1. markp, it was indeed claimed at the time that the BBC did their deal with Sky solely to stop Channel 4 bidding for the contract.

      2. @keithcollantine

        Keeping the races ad-free is a good start and signals from the off they understand the sport better than ITV did.

        I’d really like to watch ads-free races but it is often an unrealistic view for a public organization. I work for the belgian french equivalent of the BBC and while we would all like not to display ads, we have little choice. We have three ads in a race but we keep broadcasting the video in a small side insert, that’s all we could do.

        The F1 contract is currently by far the most expensive contract here, with so little left that only a small team of three persons handle each Grand Prix weekend. Austerity measures in Europe primarily target all public services and are really hitting hard.

        The contract has just been renewed, for one year only, but it was almost doomed without Vandoorne and a contract price discount (we talk about millions of euros for basic broadcast, main channel access only, one video feed, no live internet broadcast, no free practices).

        I really feel for the BBC colleagues, the guys there have most certainly fought all they could but in the end, governments give much less, administration boards logically eliminate the most expensive things first and free-to-air disappear.

        1. As a Belgian and with the BBC gone, LaDeux is the only channel left for me to watch F1. I already watched most of the races there, and I really enjoy the commentary of Gaetan and Stoffel.
          It’s really sad that you guys only got a one year extension. If that doesn’t get renewed next year, and means that for the first time in over 30 years I won’t be able to watch F1.

    2. Agreed that we should be hopefull and give them a chance to prove they can do it @craig-o. And yes, its a bit of a relief that at least these 10 races will still be FTA.

    3. Channel 4 will provide very similar coverage to that of the BBC. It is a public owned Channel and always seems to produced programmes that are unbiased and aren’t there to chase ratings, more like the BBC than ITV. In the past they used to show Cricket (Which was fantastic coverage until they were out bid by SKY), they also got the Grand National this year and I would say the coverage was actually an improvement on the BBC and their coverage of the Paraolympics 2012 was easily on a par with the BBC’s olympic coverage.

      This is great news! lets hope they take some of the BBC team with them.

    4. Really pleased it’s a new channel that understands shouty gambling ads don’t make the show any better. Their horsey stuff seems decent, don’t really follow it though – and their cricket was superb.

      Hopefully it’ll mean an end to the race starting 25 minutes into the highlights show, and all the inane slow-mo drivel and presenter-love the BBC calls sports coverage these days.
      I will miss the iPlayer though – All4 or 4Play or whatever is nowhere near as user-friendly (and inevitably full of ads).

      It’s a great opportunity to try some new faces and voices – Maybe it’s a shame Jenson Button didn’t retire after all.

    5. petebaldwin (@)
      21st December 2015, 14:07

      @craig-o – Most complaints have come from people outside of the UK who don’t really know much about Channel 4. I’m actually quite excited to see what they come up with.

      BBC have to balance what they do to keep everyone happy as it is paid for by tax-payers. With the amount of people watching F1 declining rapidly due to the dull races and Championships, artificial “racing” and the fact that you can only follow half of the season live without paying for Sky, they can’t justify such a huge price tag for something that can no longer be classed as “must watch.”

      ITV are all about money and nothing else. The quality of their programming is awful. It’s mainly reality shows, game shows and other similar productions – effectively anything that is cheap to produce and will guarantee enough viewers to keep the advertisers happy. They would use this opportunity to make money – not to produce a great show.

      Channel 4 have always been the “alternative” channel. They have to generate their own money so of course, there are going to be adverts but their shows often push the boundaries and can be controversial. They’ll use this opportunity as a global advertising opportunity to get the name “Channel 4” known around the world. This is why they are willing to not have advertisements during the race – they care about what people think of their shows and think about quality as well as money.

      Whereas ITV would have used this as a cash-grab (they would have wanted an advert at least every 15 minutes), Channel 4 will likely do something different with it.

      1. But loads of Brits follow tennis all year round so good job they keep Wimbledon.

  3. And live races in HD unlike sky unless you want to pay the extra

  4. Funny I have actually liked the Sky coverage but each to there own

    1. Agreed. Fair to middling presentation team, but Martin Brundle, David Croft & Ted Kravitz are the “A” Team. I am just so sad that I cannot afford it, like many others, hence the low viewing figures.

      1. I’ve grown to love Ted Kravitz, I like his note book bit as well as his interviews. I’m not so keen on Crofty and Brundle anymore. Johnny Herbert and Damon Hill are great. On the BBC side Coulthard and McNish are very good and I hope Channel 4 take them onboard.

      2. I would agree with you. Ted and Martin are the true shining lights of the coverage. Crofty is great but sometimes I find myself saying for him to say less and let Martin speak more. I also wish that Ted was used more in the middle of a race, like a 3rd commentator in the pitlane instead of just a pit lane reporter.

        Johnny and Damon are starting to get on my nerves a tad and I would like if someone like Webber or even a ex-team principal (Lowdon perhaps) joined the coverage for an alternate view. It just needs someone who doesn’t want Hamilton to win, to be honest.

    2. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      22nd December 2015, 0:03

      I love it. People always say that it’s terrible but I get the impression that’s just their frustration talking.

      Their coverage is fantastic.

      1. Agreed, I watched some of the BBC coverage and a couple of their Highlights shows and it was awful! Cringeably bad! Suzi Perry and Eddie Jordan! And Coulthard’s continual use of his made up word ‘overspeed’ drives me insane! He’s even got Ben Edwards using it.

        Whilst I may resent paying an extra £10 a month for the HD bundle to keep my F1 coverage the expense is easily mitigated when looking at the alternatives.

  5. as @craig-o says this is a relief more than anything. i was dreading a return to itv and adverts – or even no live coverage whatsoever. channel 4 did an outstanding job with the cricket a few years ago, and also with the WRC (many years ago) so i have some optimism.

  6. With the talk around ITV getting it back… Channel 4 is definitely unexpected.

    Though maybe ITV didn’t want it back due to them piloting Formula E?

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      21st December 2015, 14:10

      Someone mentioned below – apparently Bernie said their can’t be adverts during the race which obviously immediately counts ITV out. They wouldn’t have F1 for free if they weren’t allowed to ruin it with constant adverts.

      1. I wish Bernie would let those who carry the races in Canada that ads are not allowed :(

  7. According to the Channel 4 news release it seems a whole new contract with the 10 races not yet decided they will also show practice and qualifying live.

  8. Please C4, leave Suzi “I like motorbikes more than cars” Perry behind. Get someone/anyone who knows what they are talking about.

    1. @f1sidewinda I agree with leaving Perry out of the new team. Not quite because she is more a bike person than F1 but because I don’t think she is a good presenter. Hopefully C4 will recruit someone else.

      1. I find her almost unwatchable. Here’s hoping Lee McKenzie gets a promotion.

        1. I find her actually unwatchable, EJ also. Keep Lee Mc, Ben Edwards, Tom Clarkson and Jennie Gow. Not convinced by Allan McNish, prefer Karun Chandok.

          1. No mention of DC? I think he’s been excellent, taking on a multi-role position in the team. I thought he was dead weight when he started, brought in by Uncle Brundle, but I was wrong.

          2. I find Ben Edwards hard to listen to. He’s always getting things wrong and missing details, his commentary at the start of races is dull and repetitive, and he cannot keep up.

            Bring back James Allen. He may have annoyed some people but he always knew what he was talking about and was very enthusiastic about it!

            DC is okay to a point but then once it gets too much it becomes boring. There are plenty of commentators who I am sure would be capable of stepping up to the job.

    2. Lee McKenzie should have got the role when Jake Who’sit left. No-one better springs to mind. She’s been brought up in the sport. Knows everyone. Great sense of humour and a natural style.

      1. Carmen Jorda in a bikini works well for me.

      2. I think she missed the promotion because of lack of presenting experience (they’ve obviously been trying to help with this with her hosting the practice sessions etc). Jake was extremely good at the technical aspect of presenting, although his chummy personality did grate a little at times :)

        1. I think it’s an unfortunate aspect of being the broadcast anchor and the one who tie’s it all together. It’s quite the skill, however I was sick to the teeth of Jake after a couple of seasons and Simon Lazenby after three.

          Overall I prefer Sky’s coverage to the bbc’s it allows for much more depth and and Eddie Jordan is nowhere to be seen which is worth the repeated VTs and excessive hyperbole.

          I am sure Channel 4 will do a better job than the Beeb – where the televised sports coverage has been deteriorating.

          I think the chequered flag podcast from USP for the Beeb is great, hopefully that will continue for Channel 4, the team of Jennie Gow, James Allen and Allan McNish is far better than the bbc trio.

      3. Agree 100% Ch4 should have Lee McKenzie as lead presenter of their coverage.
        I wouldn’t mind if Edwards, Coulthard and even EJ made switch as well.

    3. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
      21st December 2015, 22:18

      Agreed. She was useless in her BBC F1 role. I hope though that Claire Balding stays away from ALL F1 related coverage – she is so annoying..

  9. I’m just happy that ITV didn’t get it. Does the BBC even show any live sport anymore? Might as well close down the whole company and it wouldn’t make a difference to the world. I hope that Channel 4 recruits most of the BBC team except Sui Perry and Eddie Jordan. Jake Humphrey was miles better than Suzi.

    1. Does the BBC even show any live sport anymore?

      Snooker, football, athletics; those spring to mind immediately.

      Might as well close down the whole company and it wouldn’t make a difference to the world.

      You’re aware that sport is maybe 10% of what the BBC does, right?

      1. @raceprouk Maybe I came off a bit too aggressive there. What I was trying to say was that the BBC have been cutting a lot of things in the past few years, and that F1 is probably in a safer pair of hands in 2016 with the Channel 4 deal. I hope that Sky completely give up their rights to Channel 4 so that live coverage of Formula 1 is completely free, but I doubt that it will ever happen which is unfortunate. I hate Sky. It’s the EA of the TV world.

  10. This is a bit of an issue for me in the future. I plan to move to The Netherlands in late 2016. I was aware that I could get BBC through some packages if I plan enough, but Chennel 4 presents a problem. Is anyone in The Netherlands a big fan of Countdown, Come Dine with Me or Deal or No Deal and has had a similar problem?

    1. I guess you have to learn Dutch or German. I’m not sure if they continue this in 2016, but cable company Ziggo gives F1 to all their subscribers. RTL germany is the only free way to get F1. And boy, they suck!

    2. You need a android box…through the internet…and you will get Channel 4… for me in Mallorca…..and if you thought the adverts on ITV during races were long…..try Spanish tv !!!

    3. Alternatively get freesat, works fine.

    4. You can watch Channel4 on FilmOnTV in The Netherlands.

  11. What’s curious here is the BBC will have to pay Ecclestone a penalty to cut their deal short early. There will be other costs associated with this decision: for example a lot of extra programming will have to be found. However the combined savings of not having to fly people around the world for three years to cover F1 will apparently still be sufficient to make this a worthwhile move for the BBC.

    It’s a shame because there’s no better place for F1 to be showcased in Britain. But the license fee’s been frozen for five years now and it’s clearly cutting deeply. This was probably inevitable.

    1. Will they? I notice that the Channel 4 deal is for three years, which is the same as the remainder of the BBC contract. Did Channel 4 just buy the rights off the BBC?

    2. @keithcollantine No doubt the Beeb will struggle to match the excitement of modern F1, perhaps re-runs of Homes Under the Hammer or Bargain Hunt should just about fill the void.

      1. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
        21st December 2015, 22:23

        Not forgetting “Bankok Airport” haha. BBC is awful these days.

    3. @keithcollantine, the thing is, you have to wonder if the BBC could have found a cheaper way of covering the sport before cutting their coverage entirely. Could they have slimmed down parts of their coverage first – for example, did they need to have the additional “red button” coverage post race forums?

      1. @anon: The biggest cost is simply flying the cast/crew/equipment out to cover the race. The post-race forum would add a very marginal amount to the total price – they just need to keep the cameras rolling. One simple cost-cutting measure (unfortunately I can’t remember who first suggested it) would have been to present the non-live races from Salford instead of flying Big Suze halfway around the world to spend five minutes talking to camera.

    4. I must admit to being confused about the decisions on BBC funding. There was a trial done where some families where inhibited from watching BBC for a week, some wanting to scrap or lower the fee, some not wanting increase the and some saying they were willing to pay a higher fee at the start of the trial.

      Quote “Quality of sports coverage
      Across this research project, households were unable to access sports content such as the
      football World Cup final and could not watch regular sports content such as Football Focus and
      Match of the Day. The households that changed their minds really struggled with not being able
      to watch Premier League highlights on Match of the Day, particularly those without access to
      sports packages on Pay TV services. This programme is also often part of a weekend ritual
      and the disruption was particularly frustrating. Also sports fans (often, but not exclusively, males) were
      upset at not being able to watch some of the BBC’s live coverage of major sporting
      tournaments. In the example of the World Cup final 2014, where audiences had to watch this on
      ITV instead, all commented that they would have preferred to watch it on the BBC owing to
      what they saw as the more “professional” and uninterrupted coverage.
      Thus, even where there was a direct and credible alternative on ITV, the BBC’s approach was missed”

    5. Actually @keithcollantine it’s not just the frozen licence fee that’s the major issue for the BBC, but the extra costs that the government has loaded onto the BBC at the same time. World Service used to be government funded and is now taken from the licence fee (£245million), likewise the S4C welsh service funding (£102m) and then more recently the over-75 free licences (£565m) effectively a 25% cut in the money available to fund broadcasting which was £3.6b before these extra costs were introduced.

      However given they seem to have to pay an exit fee I can’t see why they couldn’t have produced a show from a UK studio with the F1 feed – and less of a magazine show and more of a sports event coverage. Maybe they were contractually obliged to have on site reporting?

  12. I’m unsure what this means in terms of personnel changes.

    If my understanding of the BBC team is correct, McNish works primarily for 5Live, and if we lost him from the TV broadcast that would be a loss. I’m not particularly enamoured with Coulthard, Jordan & Perry, but I don’t have any sensible suggestions as to who could take over the TV presenting duties, given Jake Humphrey sounded very much like he wanted to reduce the traveling when he switched to football.

    I’d like to see Louise Goodman in the pit lane once more, and was surprised when she wasn’t snapped up by the BBC when they took over from ITV. She’s been doing a great job for ITV4 on the BTCC races, so I can’t imagine it would be out of the question.

    I suspect I’ll be slightly unpopular with my final thought: I think James Allen has been a far better commentator the second time around on 5Live. I wonder whether my previous opinion of his commentary was coloured simply by him not being Murray Walker. I think C4 would do well to bring him on board.

    1. James Allen was a far better commentator than that terrible Jonathan Legard.

      1. Everyone was.

        Ben Edwards is far better than Allan.

        1. @hairs I disagree about Ben Edwards. I swear half the time he doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about, he’ll miss details and get things wrong and it’s really annoying.

          1. @strontium Totally agree on Ben Edwards, I don’t know how many times I find myself correcting him and then either DC or himself pointing out the mistake. It is very annoying and detracts from the coverage. Remember when you could choose between BBC commentary, Five Live, CBBC and just race/track sounds? Bring that back and if it is still Ben Edwards at the mic I’ll opt for race/track sounds every race.

      2. You mean like this? Legard was shocking.

      3. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
        21st December 2015, 22:25

        James Allen was terrible. Very arrogant and self-entitled. People didn’t wear the “Stop The Cock” t-shirts for nothing you know!!

  13. It’s a shame of course as the BBC feels like the natural home of F1 in the UK. That said, their coverage over the last few years has been so bad in my opinion that perhaps it was time to move on anyway.

  14. This is the same Channel 4 that the Conservatives have indicated they are going to sell off to the highest bidder. Can’t see the no in race ads policy lasting through a new fully commercial owner.

  15. Does anyone know if there is free to air coverage in Belgium next year?

    As far as I know the RTBF contract ends in 2015.

      1. Thanks :)

  16. When the BBC got the rights to Formula 1 back from ITV in 2009 everyone was happy because it meant advert-free F1 back on TV. We were told this was a five year contract but the BBC bailed out early to save money, sharing the rights with Sky in a ridiculous deal where the BBC only showed some races from 2012. We were told by the BBC that this would protect F1 on the BBC until 2018 but now they have bailed out early again, getting rid of their coverage with three years left to run.

    As much as I am a fan of the BBC they have shown contempt for F1 viewers, chopping and changing contracts which we were told were in place for a set number of years. At least BBC Radio 5’s excellent coverage will continue until 2021, but with the BBC’s propensity to bail out on contracts can we believe them?

    1. As much as I am a fan of the BBC they have shown contempt for F1 viewers, chopping and changing contracts which we were told were in place for a set number of years.

      It’s convenient to ignore the fact that the license fee, through which the BBC is wholly funded for domestic programming, has been frozen for several years, while the costs of covering a sport that spans 20 countries around the globe keep going up every year.

    2. In fairness to the BBC they were only reacting to the cuts they were been told they had to make in part thanks to the new UK government in 2010 not raising the license fee among other things.

    3. None of this is the fault of the BBC: it’s the fault of the conservative government which is determined to destroy the British public sector in general for the benefit of private (mostly foreign) competition which they will personally profit from once they waltz out of office.

      What’s sad is that their plan rests on many people blaming the BBC (or the NHS) or whomever for the cuts, instead of the government which forced them, and so far it’s working.

      1. It is the fault of the BBC. There was no shortage of people back in 2008 wondering how it could afford what it had bid for the entire term of the contract, what with the Olympics, World Cup, and Commonwealth Games coming up. I won’t say I could have predicted this right from the start – certainly not the details – but I’m not in the least surprised at what has happened since.

        Licence-fee revenue went up by £9m last year, by the way. It’s in the Annual Report. The main reason for the £140m loss was the abolition of grant-in-aid for the World Service, which, rather than scale back, the Corporation decided to fund out of its own pockets. But in the previous two years, it posted a profit (or “surplus”, since “profit” is a bad word, of course) of over £150m. Essentially, in 2014 it lost most of what it gained in 2013. It retains a cash reserve of over £450m.

        1. Oops, looked at it again… it lost £125m last year, not 140, and the reserve is about £405m, not 450. (I don’t know where I got 140 from, but obviously I mixed up the zero and the five in the latter figure.)

      2. I am quite happy my BBC tax has been frozen. I am happy to pay what I do for Radio 4, MOTD via iPlayer and the website but the rest of the content is an irrelevance to me these days

        If the bbc didn’t pay such fat cat salaries, ditched some of the tiers of middle management and reigned in their ridiculous cost and expense structure (it’s easy spending other people’s money) perhaps it could have kept the F1 coverage.

        1. Someone’s been reading the lies published in NewsCorp newspapers, I see.

          1. Hardly, we don’t live in the 1980’s anymore the BBC needs to learn to cut its cloth appropriately, the days of bloated, tax payer funded public broadcasting owning all the content and channels has had its day, the BBC can do plenty with their current budget. Channel 4 should hopefully be able to improve on the Beeb’s poor F1 coverage and provide FTA broadcasting many people are looking for.

            I expect to drop Sky in the future as soon as they get tired of F1. They have overpaid for the EPL contract and will have to recoup. Can’t forget about BT in the background trying to transform themselves into a content owner as well.

          2. @ju88sy: Sky has, what, 600 channels available to subscribers? Of which the BBC has a truly colossal… eight. And of those eight, four are paired up on the same terrestrial band, so really, they only have six. Now, compare that to Sky; with about ten sports channels and twenty movie channels, they clearly have a lot more. And that’s before you get to the general programming and rolling news channels.

            And of course the BBC has been slimming down plenty in recent years, a fact which is obvious when you start reading stuff that isn’t published by NewsCorp or the Daily Mail, both of which have a vendetta against the BBC.

        2. See, this is what I’m talking about. Show me another media company which produces half the world-class content that the BBC does, for the same budget.

          The BBC gives you four tv channels, digital services, 6 national radio stations, endless local / regional radio stations and content, the best online delivery platform, AND does it with quality that makes just about any other network in the world look amateur, and you’re still conditioned to think that it’s overpriced and inefficient.

          You couldn’t be more wrong. Sky will charge you the equivalent of the licence fee every month, and provide hardly any original content at all.

      3. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
        21st December 2015, 22:31

        That’s rubbish. The BBC is totally at fault. It’s a fat cats club of Apple-loving sycophants that are only interested in their own benefit. The BBC should not be protected as it is. Bunch of incompetent fools.

        1. Yes, because it has nothing to do at all with the Conservative Government freezing the TV licence for several years, squeezing the BBC’s funding ever tighter in an attempt to eventually strangle the life out of it, and of course nothing at all to do with the massive smear campaigns run by both the Daily Mail and NewsCorp, which you have so clearly bought into.

          1. @raceprouk I think you have missed the point – most industries have frozen budgets these days – especially with such low inflation. Managers are expected to become more productive – Ie more for the same money. Cutting services is the easy answer.
            30 years ago in the Automotive industry the budgets were routinely cut by 10% year on year despite substantial wage inflation – as a manager you either achieved it or “did the other “. That is why the uk car industry in particular is so successful now and cars are packed with so much value compared to 30 years ago.
            The BBC could learn the lesson

          2. No, it really doesn’t. See my comment. Licence revenue increased last year, despite the freeze. Not by much in the scheme of things – £9m, compared with a defecit of £125m on a total budget of almost £5,000m – but it did not go down.

            Which isn’t to say the BBC’s income hasn’t fallen: it’s down from just over £5,000m in 2013/14 to a little over £4,800m in ’14/15. Certainly, a sympathetic government might not have abolished the World Service subsidy, and could also have increased the licence fee to cover any other losses (assuming that this didn’t lead to more evasion), but that would be treating the symptoms, not the disease. It’s right there in the Annual Report: Total (i.e., gross) operating costs for the year ending March 31, 2014: £4,738m; 2015: £4,914m. 2015’s revenue would actually have covered 2014’s costs fairly comfortably, but having taken a foreseeable hit in income, the BBC actually went on to spend almost £200m more over the next year, not less.

            I’m not saying it’s totally out of control. There’s plenty of dry language in the Report about efficency savings and the 2014/15 loss being a predictable phase of financial restructuring, but it still doen’t give the impression that the BBC really gets it. I mean, just as an example, look at its F1 coverage: did it really need to fly Suzi Perry out to every race just to present the qualifying and race shows when Lee McKenzie was there as well? Or hire Eddie Jordan at all? (I’m not talking about his incoherence; simply questioning the need for three regular presenters when ITV got along perfectly well with two.) Small things, but they all mount up. During the Commonwealth Games here in Glasgow, the BBC hired the Malmaison Hotel – the most expensive in the city – for the entire duration. All of it; every room. That doesn’t sound to me like an organization with an eye on costs.

          3. @salcrich: The BBC can’t be compared to companies in other industries; as a taxpayer-funded public service broadcaster bound by a public charter, they have to operate very differently to other broadcasters and companies. By restricting the budget, the Tory Government is gradually preventing the BBC from fulfilling the obligations of its own charter; if it goes too far, the BBC can then be shut down, which I think we’d all agree would be a major loss not just to the UK, but to other broadcasters around the world who work closely with them.

            @Duncan: The revenue may have gone up, but as you say, the amount is nowhere near enough to cover the shortfall. And while I agree there are steps the BBC could have taken to reduce the shortfall regardless of the TV licence cost freeze, there’s no guarantee it would have been enough to save the F1 coverage or anything else they’ve lost or dropped recently.

  17. As one of the swines that this doesn’t particularly affect, I would simply say that the continuation of free-to-air F1 in the UK is a relief. Also I would say the application of F1 to 4oD will be important, since on-demand streaming services are increasingly becoming the preferred method of watching TV. Hopefully they will upload full sessions/races unlike Sky, who only make highlights available on-demand.

    I do, however, think that Coulthard will be making his way to Sky in a bromantic reunion with Brundle…

    1. Eurgh, hopefully this sees the end of Coulthards monotonous commentary for good.

    2. Great I would like Ben Edwards and John Watson on ch4 as they used to be on Eurosport and I used to always watch them over BBC 1 and Murray Walker.

      1. Ben Edwards is rubbish IMO. Murray Walker on the other hand is a commentary legend.

        1. Ben Edwards was better when he did the BTCC, that much is for sure.

    3. I suspect only if C4 don’t want him. He renewed with the beeb a couple of years ago when he may well have had offers from Sky. I think he quite liked being a big fish in the smaller beeb pond. He certainly took on a deal of work. I liked him, much against my initial reservations. He’d be the one I’d miss most, along with Lee.

      1. I’d be interested to know if contracts between the employees and BBC have carried over to C4 in this deal. I can’t see the BBC being allowed to get rid of all these employees if they have contracts, so it wouldn’t surprise me.

    4. @raceprouk I understand and agree with your comments about the role of the BBC – however I suspect we will probably never agree about the need for all organisations to stand back and reassess their spending. My pension will go up by .2% this year (approxCPI) and I will need a lot of convincing that organisations providing services to me should increase their charges by 6 or 7 % and more year on year.
      BUT this is all straying too far away from F1 even though the teams must all be fighting hard to maximise the performance value they get from their budgets.

      1. I’m all for companies reassessing their spending; it’s key to survival after all. I just don’t think it’s the be-all-and-end-all of the matter.

        1. @raceprouk we agree – not the be all and end all for a creative organisation but it can’t be ignored.

  18. And what about the theme tune! The Fleetwood Mac lads and lassies will be panicking with the loss of royalty revenue!
    BBC letting go of it, Hamilton NOT winning SPOTY, Mercedes and Ferrari over powerful – F1 is on it’s knees

  19. Good for the UK, pointless for anyone across the world who watched F1 on the BBC…

    1. @xtwl BBC feeds stopped here where I come from as soon as they stopped showing entire seasons so I think this one is quite a bit more insignificant than the one in 2012……

      1. @xtwl By that I mean a local channel here showed BBC feeds in the pre-Sky years.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      21st December 2015, 13:49

      4 stream live as well.

  20. Hearing that the ITV deal fell through because Bernie was insisting on no Ad-Breaks during the live races & ITV couldn’t commit to that while Channel 4 were more than happy to.

    The only problem for Channel 4 will be that without Ad-breaks they will be almost entirely reliant on getting most of there budget from a title sponsor, Something that isn’t always ideal.

    1. @gt-racer

      I’m not too clued in on how ITV 4 handles Formula E, but I’m aware that they have ad-free races.

      Is this because they have a title sponsor, or because the fee to show F-E is just a hell of a lot cheaper than F1?

      1. I actually think that Formula E may be paying ITV to broadcast the races, Not 100% sure on that but its something I was told was the case last season.

        Also remember that Formula E races are shorter (Around 60 minutes), F1 races can be upto 2 hours so they would be losing a lot more Ad-Revenue going Ad-free for F1. Additionally Formula E gets substantially less viewers which again means there losing less Ad-revenue compared to what they would be getting from showing F1 Ad-free.

      2. I’m not too clued in on how ITV 4 handles Formula E, but I’m aware that they have ad-free races.

        Nod bad. Not great, but not bad. Though it does help that they only send a handful of people to each event, and not the small army the BBC sends to every F1 race, live or not.

    2. @gt-racer Here in Brazil coverage has been free-to-air for decades and without ad breaks during races too. Globo TV has five or so sponsors and they run their ads just before the race start and podium ceremony. The problem is that the coverage is just that… it starts just before the race and ends right after the podium, no post-race show or anything. Not ideal, but I think it’s a good compromise and has been keeping F1 free-to-air in a country where F1 interest is sharply declining.

  21. petebaldwin (@)
    21st December 2015, 13:48

    Really happy with this. Ok lets be honest, in an ideal world, it’d remain on BBC but budgets have been cut and F1 is too expensive.

    Channel 4 is the next best alternative and is leagues above what we’d get from ITV. Having no adverts during the race is not something ITV would have even considered.

    1. But the top manager’s pay is still affordable, as are golden parachutes/handshakes, cooking/dancing/antiques/crockery/job interviews and of course Eastenders. If the BBC had to generate its own cash it would care about programs. As it is they will rake in exactly the same amount of money from the licence fee payers as before. So it is a good move to stop showing programs that people want to watch. I’ve always said I would love to run a company under BBC rules, where I got paid no matter what I did even if you used an alternative service. But the only others who behave like that are racketeers and gangsters, both illegal by the way.

      1. programs that people want to watch

        BBC Ratings:
        Bake Off Final: 15m
        Strictly Come Dancing Final: 11m
        F1 (season average): 3.11m, an 8-year low

        I don’t watch Bake Off or Strictly, I do watch F1. I’d like it to stay on the BBC, but arguing they should devote their money to popular programming is just going to get us more cookery and dance shows.

      2. What are you on about? “Cut programmes people want to watch”? You’re aware that if they cut Eastenders a) far more people would be annoyed and b) they wouldn’t save as much money, compared to cutting F1?

        The BBC has to cater for everyone, which means it can’t please everyone all of the time. “I personally don’t like Eastenders” doesn’t overwhelm the numbers that do.

      3. You do realise, compared to the costs of F1 coverage, Eastenders can be funded with the small change found down the back of the sofa, right?

  22. Interesting that Bernie comments the Channel 4 deal is good for the future since “F1 has moved on” since the BBC deal was signed…. When the world at large, and broadcasters/sponsors/promoters in particular, are tearing their hair out because F1 is, in marketing terms, still stuck in the 1970’s. The early 1970’s.

  23. Rachel Riley, Rachel Riley, Rachel Riley. :D

    1. But what about all the Countdown-watching university students? Won’t someone think of their needs? :)

  24. Great news… any deal with no advertising breaks in the middle of live racing is a good one.

  25. This is good news. Barbara Slater always wanted to off-load F1 right from the start, so the fact it hasn’t gone to ITV (who would no doubt screen in race ads) is a relief.

    As much as I like Ben Edwards, the BBC coverage has been pretty dire ever since they decided not to have Lee McKenzie present the show and get rid of Gary Anderson. Hopefully they’ll both be offered contracts with Channel 4.

    At least the inevitable transition to 100% Sky is spared a few more years I guess.

    1. lee mcenzie david coulthard and garry anderson and ben edwards would be ok i think

  26. If the Paralympics is anything to go by, Channel 4 should do a great job

  27. I like the Beeb and loved the coverage when they still had the dream team (pre-Sky) but if Channel 4 can do anything like what they did with cricket it could be fantastic. I’d expect it to lose the glamour and politics brought by Eddie Jordan and bring in some people that we might not know but actually have a really good understanding of the sport and are enthusiastic about racing at all levels.

    Audience numbers will surely drop as F1’s Rolex-aspiring middle aged white male target audience simply don’t watch Channel 4 but hopefully they can do a better job explaining that the cars are really complicated to drive and what good racing looks like as there’s as much racing now as there ever was but it’s only the banzai moves that commentators get excited about. If they can get some more younger people enjoying the sport it would have a positive impact on F1 although I’m sure Bernie’s sad to be seeing the iconic BBC brand leaving the sport.

  28. Very much cheered to hear that C4 are getting involved in F1 broadcasting. They’ve got a track record of innovation in sports broadcasting – their cricket coverage was so good that Sky pinched all their ideas – so I dearly hope they can show Lazenby’s tired mob a trick or two, even though I’ve today cancelled my Sky subscription. I only hope that if Bernie goes after the Beeb for a stonking early-termination penalty payout, the Culture, Media and Sports committee orders the poison dwarf to appear before them so that they can begin to investigate his shady deals and make sure his tax affairs are all perfectly in order …

  29. to be honest, as long as they show the broadcast from the 5 minute warning/FOM logo until a bit of post-race analysis with no in-race ads, I don’t care which channel shows it.

    NO MORE EDDIE JORDAN and his silly story-time voice overs….

    1. am i the only one who likes eddie?

      1. ‘fraid so ;-)

      2. I like Eddie too

  30. Fair enough. C4 might not be the first broacaster that springs to mind when you think of sport, but they did an excellent job with the cricket, and I understand their (horse) racing coverage is very good, too. This could turn out quite well. I wonder if we’ll still get free practice, though…

    1. yep, you get free practise on the live days like the BBC contract

      1. Yeah, I read that later, but thanks. :)

        I’m actually looking forward to this now.

  31. I couldn’t care less. If this news upsets you then you are living in the wrong century and aren’t likely to be reading this.

    I “cut the cord” and watch every session for free, usually in 540p or greater which is fine for the price, lol. The best that can come out of this is that DC will join Crofty and Ted at Sky. Got my fingers crossed for that. And that EJ fades away. Quietly. And takes Brundle with him. MB is heck of nice guy but just can’t be neutral and report on the event and it shows horribly.

  32. C4 did a great job of the WRC in the early 00s when they had it, with a good presenting team and some innovations, such as virtual spectator, it was a pity when they changed the team (I liked Penny Mallory and the task guy who presented it) and then stopped the coverage eventually, for me at least.

    So I’m optimistic they’ll come up with a good package well just have to see how it goes next year.

    Merry Christmas!

    1. The actual in-stage coverage including things like the Virtual spectator were been produced by the WRC TV team (International Sportsworld Communicators as it was known at the time) as part of the world-feed which every broadcaster had access to, None of that came from Channel 4.

      All Channel 4 did was pick up that world-feed while adding there own on-air team & commentary over the top of it.

      They even used the WRC World-feed intro video & simply added there own music over the top of it.

  33. another nail in f1’s coffin it will be awfull coverage why bbc where is the money going? licence fee’s go up what they offer goes down, they are shutting bbc3 too, seriously where is the money going?

    1. i sopke to soon before i seen the no ad’s bit could be good

  34. It seemed inevitable that the BBC would give up on F1, so I’m just relieved that we’ll still get the same level of coverage that we have had over the last few years.

    It is rather curious that Formula 1, a sport for Rolex customers, would be picked up by the made-for-university-students Channel 4, but I can see why. The weekend broadcasting for Channel 4 is usually an omnibus of American sitcoms — nothing terrible, but hardly anything special. Despite the downfall in viewership, live Formula 1 races can still be relied upon to draw a few million viewers. So in that respect, I think it’s a big win for Channel 4 — and a big win for the BBC by slashing their expenditure, and a big win for UK fans because it’s nowhere near as bad a situation as we feared. As long as Channel 4 hire a competent team of presenters and commentators, then this is very good news.

    Also, I can finally wake up on a Sunday and watch Frasier, the Simpsons and Formula 1 without even having the change the channel. It’s a dream come true.

  35. So .. Channel 4 – well i guess that’s a good thing, if the BBC kept it, i’m sure it would have been cut to the bone cost-wise.

    we know Suzi Perry is going to Top Gear, what about the rest? anything firm, rumours, firm-rumours ?? flimsy speculation???

    1. we know Suzi Perry is going to Top Gear

      Source? I haven’t heard anything about that.

      1. Nothing official, I think, but Chris Evans let slip live on air that she would be involved in an upcoming Top Gear competition winners prize. The prospect doesn’t excite me.

        1. …………And, I should add, it proves nothing. He could just as well have said “you’ll be driven round Silverstone by Lewis Hamilton.” Doesn’t mean he’s joining TG.

          1. Doesn’t mean he’s joining TG.

            I think you meant ‘she’ there?

          2. No I don’t. I clearly intended it to read “Doesn’t mean Lewis Hamilton is joining TG2. Oh, and don’t bother thanking me for answering your question.

        2. Thanks for answering that @Mel_Drew, i thought the radio interview thing with Cris Evans would be well known, thanks for explaining it :)
          As others have said clearly there’s more exprertise at the beeb than just the “stars” that CH4 will be interested in, but it’s also notable that mainly people are interested in those familiar faces and whether they will move onto other BBC projects like Top Gear, after all many certainly still have contracts and therefore can’t move to CH4.
          So i’d assume given the BBC cost cutting, they will move many of the Formula 1 team to Top Gear, speculation obviously, but seems plausible to me.
          Those not in contract will no doubt be looking at all options (not just a move to CH4) therefore it’s very hard to make a guess at the CH4 lineup.

  36. The BBC sent a full TV team to every race with goodness knows how many crew, producers, directors, etc. – even the races where they were only showing highlights. Then there is the BBC News crew. Then there is the BBC Radio 5 Live crew. Then there are the Internet journalist(s). They can never mix & match – not allowed (& “not our money!”). By the time they have paid top dollar for SP, DC & EJ and flown possibly 100 people to every part of the world First Class & put them all up in 5* hotels, it is little wonder that there isn’t enough left for Bernie! Murray Walker used to commentate on long haul races from the studio in London (even when Martin Brundle started with him) – spot the difference. That’s the way the money goes, Pop goes the beeb… Good Luck C4

  37. Congratulations Channel 4 on getting Formula one. Now what we need is a big brother house to put all the formula one drivers in. That would be great entertainment

  38. I used to defend the license fee and the BBC for many years considering that the unique way they were funded allowed them to avoid a populist approach and instead focus on actual quality.

    F1 was the last thing they produced that I watched as they’ve one by one scrapped anything that doesn’t feel like I’m being made dumber for having watched it. And even then I only watched it if I couldn’t get a decent option to watch on Sky instead.

    Channel 4 on the other hand produces the best comedies, the best documentaries and now the best sport. I don’t even mind that their website doesn’t work with Ad Blockers.

    Here’s hoping they kick Jordan to the curb and take on a crew who are both informed and tolerable. I could live with Coulthard moving across from the BBC but other than that I’d like to see some new blood, and people with an active knowledge and passion for the sport as well.

  39. I just hope to god that’s the end of professional bell end Eddie Jordan on TV.

  40. I wonder if the Channel 4 feed will be the one shown in Canada. In Canada, our F1 broadcast has been the BBC feed on TSN (sports channel).

    1. Expect it will – but with usual in-race ads. Wonder if they’ll bother upgrading the same Infiniti ad they’ve been playing for years. Webber’s not with RB anymore – news will probably get to TSN HQ some day.

  41. I wonder who’ll actually produce the coverage?

    To clarify, Channel 4 is a publisher-broadcaster, and isn’t allowed to produce its own programmes under law, rather it has to commission an independent production company to do it.

    ITV, who can produce their own programmes, chose not to when they took over the F1, with North One TV taking the role for most of ITV’s tenure I think. Not sure if they’re still around.

    I know that FOM provide the feed, so the only thing they have to produce is the commentary and the pre/post race stuff, but it certainly came on in leaps and bounds in the early ITV years. The annoyance of adverts was almost (almost) set off by the fact they actually made a big deal out of showing F1, unlike the BBC who’d previously tended to sandwich it into Grandstand or between the (plentiful) sports they also showed in those days.

    The BBC made a good job of it when they took back over (I even liked Jake Humphrey), but as others have said, F1 seems to have become an annoying inconvenience for the corporation over the past few years. The pre-race stuff is almost shockingly low quality at times. I’ve never warmed to Suzi Perry, and at the risk of being branded a right-wing, sexist, BBC bashing pig, it seems like they only employed her to keep the equal rights quotas on point. At times her and Eddie Jordan look like they don’t even want to be there. DC and Edwards are an OK commentary team, but I much prefer Brundle and Crofty.

    1. I’ve never warmed to Suzi Perry, and at the risk of being branded a right-wing, sexist, BBC bashing pig, it seems like they only employed her to keep the equal rights quotas on point.

      I found the choice of Perry odd too; isn’t she more of a bike person anyway? IIRC, she hosted the MotoGP when it was on the Beeb.
      I’d’ve preferred if they’d’ve promoted Lee McKenzie instead; she did a good job filling in for the Japanese GP that time when Jake Humphreys was unavailable. And it was quite a challenging thing too, given that quali session was delayed till the following morning IIRC.

  42. Of the potential options, Channel 4 is a much more suitable home for F1 than ITV. It is a real shame that the BBC has had to bow out of the deal, but with the ever tightening financial constraints, something had to give. Either way, all free to air sports coverage has taken a hit over the past few years. ITV’s football coverage has been obliterated, and the BBC has moved to more highlights packages across the board. That just seems to be the nature of modern broadcasting budgets.

    But we can put that into context. There have been 132 races on the BBC since 2009. Let’s say the average F1 fan looked at the website, listened to the radio and watched the races on TV in combination during that time. We’ll also assume they were interested enough to use those resources on all 3 days of the race weekend. That will have cost each person £158.40 over the 6 years, or £26.40 per season. NowTV is the cheapest Sky option coming in at £219.80 per season. That would cost the viewer £1318.80 for the same number of seasons as the BBC.

  43. How is it ‘free to air’ when we have to pay a compulsory licence fee or face prosecution? No such thing as free TV in the UK.

    1. It’s either a licence fee or commercials; money doesn’t just apparate.

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