29/07/2011

Formula 1 Racing 'Saved By BBC'

The BBC and Sky Sports have been jointly awarded the live rights to Formula 1 between 2012 and 2018.

Just last month it was reported that, with programming costing a huge £1 per viewer, the BBC might be forced to drop its Formula One (F1) motor racing coverage.

The news came as the BBC faced major cutbacks with the £60m a year F1 costs - or £3m for each race - as the most expensive programme being broadcast.

The Sunday Times reported insiders who said that the trade-off if it was axed would be that the BBC would be able to stave off closing one of its digital channels.

Now, a new deal will see the iconic motor racing stay on the small screen in a joint move that will bring "increased choice, innovation and breadth of coverage to UK and Irish motor racing fans", according to a BBC statement.

The BBC said the two leading UK sports broadcasters would offer fans unparalleled live High Definition coverage of every race of the season.

The broadcasting partnership will include all races, qualifying and practice sessions live on Sky Sports across TV, online and mobile and tablet devices and half the races and qualifying sessions that remain shown live on BBC TV, online and mobile including key races such at the British Grand Prix, Monaco Grand Prix and the final race of the season.

There will also be extensive BBC highlights on TV, online and mobile, of all races and qualifying sessions that BBC is not covering live and coverage of the build up to each Grand Prix on BBC News, Sky Sports News and Sky News as well as extensive multiplatform coverage including red button, bbc.co.uk/sport and skysports.com.

Now, the audiences brought by Sky and BBC will ensure Formula 1 reaches the widest possible audience. BBC Radio 5 Live and Sports Extra will continue to cover every race live.

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.

"With this new deal not only have we delivered significant savings but we have also ensured that through our live and extended highlights coverage all the action continues to be available to licence fee payers."

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. As well as unrivalled build up to each race on Sky Sports News, we will broadcast in-depth live coverage of every session.

"Sky customers with Sky Sports will also be able to enjoy F1 across multiple platforms and devices, including Sky Go."

See: BBC's Formula One 'Heading For Pits'

(BMcC)

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