Formula One Television Rights To Be Shared Between BBC And Sky In Seven-Year Deal, Martin Brundle, Pirelli Not Impressed
The BBC will share its coverage of Formula One motor racing with Sky Sports from 2012 in a deal which will mean reduced free-to-air coverage of the popular sport.
The BBC has been its exclusive broadcaster in the UK since 2009, but will show only half the races plus qualifying and practice sessions from next season, while Sky will double up on the races shown by the BBC, as well as showing others exclusively live.
The races reserved for BBC transmission include the British and Monaco Grand Prix, while other circuits will be featured in a highlights programme.
Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport, said: 'We are absolutely delighted that F1 will remain on the BBC.
'The sport has never been more popular with TV audiences at a 10-year high and the BBC has always stated its commitment to the big national sporting moments.
Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone described the deal "super for F1".
'It will mean a lot more coverage for the sport,' he told the BBC.
'There will be highlights as well as live coverage on two different networks now, so we get the best of both worlds.'
Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports, said: 'This is fantastic news for F1 fans and Sky Sports will be the only place to follow every race live and in HD.
'We will give F1 the full Sky Sports treatment with a commitment to each race never seen before on UK television.
But not everyone is impressed. BBC commentator and former driver Martin Brundle expressed his dissatisfaction on Twitter, saying: 'Found out last night, no idea how it will work yet I'm out of contract, will calmly work through options Not impressed.'
Keith Collantine, writing on F1 Fanatic, the sport's blog for enthusiastics, laments the fact that the sport will no longer be free to air, but will only come into viewers' living rooms via a hefty Sky Sports subscription. He added: It is also exactly why the British government should have added F1 races to list of protected events when it last had the chance to do so in 2009.
And The Guardian reports that Pirelli, who have the contract to provide all tyres for the cars on the track, have expressed their concern over a possible decrease in viewing figures for the sport, and resulting difficulty keeping its crucial sponsors.