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Olympic rights, sport and the BBC

Mark Thompson Mark Thompson | 11:43 UK time, Wednesday, 18 July 2012

It's a big day for BBC Sport. The fact that we've won exclusive broadcast and digital rights to the next four Olympic Games - two winter and two summer games - means not just that Olympic action will be on the BBC into the 2020s, but that we have secured one of the last pieces in a portfolio of strategic sports rights which ensure that the BBC remains the UK's most popular sports broadcaster well beyond the present Royal Charter.

From Premier League highlights on television to Wimbledon to the Six Nations to the FIFA World Cup 2014 to Formula One to the Olympics - and that's by no means a complete list - we now have rights arrangements which stretch out for many years and which guarantee that sport will continue to be a central part of the diet of licence-payers across BBC Television, Radio and Online.

So much nonsense has been written about the modern BBC and sport that it's worth spending a moment setting the record straight.

First, we know that the public care passionately about sport on the BBC. Given the option, they overwhelmingly choose to watch sport on our services rather than on those of our rivals: the recent final of Euro 2012 in which the coverage on BBC1 gained six times more viewers than that on ITV1 is a good case in point. BBC Television currently shows just 2% of the hours of TV sport broadcast in the UK but that 2% represents over 40% of the hours actually consumed by the public. That's far more than any other broadcaster, including BSkyB. And when we have a sporting moment of national importance - think of England v Italy in the Euros, or Murray v Federer at Wimbledon - they turn to us in their tens of millions.

Second, we take our responsibility to meet that public expectation very seriously. People sometimes argue that sport is so widely available on British television that there is no longer an argument for the BBC using the licence fee to pay for sports rights. I couldn't disagree more. For decades, the public have valued the unique way the BBC covers sport: its technical professionalism, the quality of its commentary and analysis, the absence of interruptions for commercials. In recent years, we've backed up that traditional distinctiveness with a new burst of innovation both in linear coverage and via the BBC Sport website.

Like most other public organisations, we are having to live within a tight budget but those who claimed that Delivering Quality First meant that the BBC was turning its back on sport were very wide of the mark. Like virtually every other kind of output, sport has had to face some unpalatable choices. We have relinquished our remaining television commitments to horse-racing and successfully renegotiated our Formula One rights to create a sharing arrangement with Sky; although it is clearly not as attractive as retaining exclusive rights, this latter deal has kept half the races live on the BBC, broadly maintained the reach of our Formula One coverage and will save us more than £150 million over the lifetime of the contract - a significant contribution to our savings targets.

Of course, the BBC has always played a major role in broadcasting sport on the radio, and will continue to do so through long term deals covering all the major sports, including the iconic Test Match Special and the Ryder Cup.

Wherever possible, we've tried to keep the costs of renewal down: compare the recent near-flat renewal of Premier League highlights (now including BBC iPlayer rights) with the reported 70% increase in the live rights. But we always intended to protect the core of our rights portfolio and we set aside enough money to do so. To give you an idea of scale, our annual financial commitment to sport will remain broadly in line with our annual budget for domestic network news and current affairs.

What's gratifying about today's announcement is that it sees that strategy coming to fruition. Many people have been instrumental in securing our long-term position in sport, but I do want to pay special tribute to our Director of Sport, Barbara Slater, and our brilliant negotiator, Dominic Coles and his team.

Over the next few days, BBC Sport will begin coverage of the single most important sporting event in the history of the BBC. I know you'd like to join me in wishing the team every success in bringing the 2012 London Games alive for our audience. The great thing is that they - and all their colleagues in our brand new sports centre in BBC North - will head into the 2012 Games knowing that, notwithstanding the doom-mongers, that sport is here to stay on the BBC not for a year or two but for the long term.


  • Comment number 1.

    All of the above is laudable. I love watching sport on the BBC - noone does it better! What a shame then that test cricket - England's home series' - are no longer broadcast. Despite the excellene of TMS, this is a major loss. If the BBC can still broadcast F1, then why not home test matches?!

  • Comment number 2.

    It is interesting that your blog focuses so much on the types of sport protected for terrestrial TV. Clearly where that protection exists, choice and competition is limited. However, putting that aside, my main question relates to the wholly unequal coverage of football across the UK. Whereas the EPL has a devoted programme on a Saturday night, those supporters of clubs in the SPL are very much second class citizens. I would therefore request that this imbalance is rectified without delay, particularly in the current climate in Scottish football whereby a focus is needed to heighten interest by fans, sponsors, etc. it would be nice to think that my licence fee buys me similar treatment to those who live in England. Go on. Make my day.

  • Comment number 3.

    Lord Reith would approve. Prioritising the Olympics above individual sports is a big step in favour of diverse sports coverage set to bring a wide range of experiences to the country. People who only care about one sport - or, worse, only four or five teams in one sport - should broaden their horizons on principle. Please consider pushing this cosmopolitanism further and broaden coverage further to the World Games and its sports, and recognise mind sports as being on an equal level with physical sports.

  • Comment number 4.

    Quality of analysis? You employ Alan Hansen, Mark Lawrenson, Mark Bright, Colin Jackson, Tim Henman and Andrew Castle. Do me a favour!

  • Comment number 5.

    All I will say, is that the only true "fantastic" product the BBC has launched since 2004 is iPlayer, and that was originally called iMP under Greg Dyke's watch.

    I can only hope the new DG brings back the innovative, interesting, risk taking BBC I expect to see, and less of the neutered, afraid to offend BBC that we've seen in the last 8 years.

    I applaud the BBC under your watch for it's stance on Jerry Springer : The Opera, but lament the decisions taken since the Brand/Ross scandal which has neutered the BBC's comedy output and made it less of a challenging organisation not afraid to give all viewpoints across.

  • Comment number 6.

    Mark, I think on the whole BBC's sport coverage tends to be amongst the best in the world, however: a) don't rest on your laurels - all channels in the UK have lifted their game on sports coverage; b) be careful about sporting costs given salaries (Linekar & Hansen in the top few - I like them both) & the massive BBC entourage that attend; c) consistent message, the BBC news division have been really negative about the Olympics which is putting me off the BBC massively; d) for me the true Olympic spirit would have included coverage of the 1st team welcomed to the village (the British Virgin Islands flag raising ceremony & anthem with all 2 athletes who'd been housed by a family near to Stevenage) & finally e) please don't dumb it all down!

  • Comment number 7.

    BBC do show sport but often it is relegated to red button and you do not even know it is on. it is Almost as if they are ashamed to be showing it. you have 4 channels put more on them be bold use the red button for extra bits not actual coverage of live events.

  • Comment number 8.

    Fantastic news. The BBC is, in my humble opinion, far and away the best place to watch sport. Can't wait for the Olympics and look forward to some quality coverage on the TV and online. Incidentally, does anyone know of a person that watched the Euro 2012 Final on ITV? - I'm not sure that these mythical creatures exist!

  • Comment number 9.

    I am sorry Mark, but the way the BBC has dropped its sports coverage just to concentrate on an event which takes place only every 2 years for only 2 weeks is laughable. Most of these sports are minority sports and the majority of the country do not even play them or watch them. However in the last 12 months, you have reduced your F1 live coverage by 50%, given up on live football league and carling cup football, reduced golf coverage to 6 live days a year, agreeing to highlights only of the European tour. I could continue. I am lucky I can afford SKY but many can not and concentrating your budget on the Olympics is wrong in my opinion. For example in the pub on Sunday night the talk was about the forthcoming PL season, Wiggins in the Tour de France, McClaren problems in F1 and the upcoming Test Match. The Olympics were dismissed as something we could do with out.

  • Comment number 10.

    I think this is great news and I agree with BBC's general policy of targeting big events. I wonder though as a public service broadcaster whether the should also be room to nurture and develop less popular sports - UK Basketball for instance would really benefit from some TV coverage and could really benefit the health of the nation as well.

  • Comment number 11.

    The BBC has made some awful decisions in its sporting choices. Dropping horse racing, US masters and French open tennis for Formula 1? Give me a break.

    The BBC should be focusing on the major sports (Football, Rugby, Cricket, Tennis, Golf) and should be showing:

    1) English Premier League football highlights, all England home matches, Euros and World Cups
    2) Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon Tennis
    3) Horse Racing from Aintree, Ascot, Goodwood, York and Epsom
    4) US Masters and Open golf
    5) Rugby League Super League Highlights and Challenge Cup
    6) Rugby Union Six Nations and World Cup
    7) Snooker Masters and Snooker World Championships
    8) Cricket England home test series
    9) Summer and Winter Olympics
    10) World and European Athletics championships

    Drop F1 and the other rubbish (Darts, all those minor tournaments for all sports (including the Scottish Open Golf, Queens Club tennis etc.), Diamond League Athletics, MotoGP, Carling Cup football etc.)

    The BBC should blow its sports budget on the big ticket items and forego some of the smaller events. Imagine if they showed some Test Cricket, Premier League Matches, Tennis Finals - viewing figures and interest would be through the roof.

  • Comment number 12.

    How much will this cost.... (a) in terms of money to the IOC, and (b) estimated budget for programming? That would enable the license fee payers to judge whether it's "cost effective". Without this information, we can't make a judgement. I suspect the cost was omitted for that very reason.

  • Comment number 13.

    Mark Thompson: "(We have) successfully renegotiated our Formula One rights to create a sharing arrangement with Sky; although it is clearly not as attractive as retaining exclusive rights, this latter deal has kept half the races live on the BBC, broadly maintained the reach of our Formula One coverage."

    Up to and including the British Grand Prix, viewers who have watched 75% of a race or more on the BBC are down by 34.29%, and the combined BBC/Sky loss is 20.35%.

    Only an idiot would conclude the deal has been successful.

    The BBC trust commissioned a report into the corporations sporting rights, and concluded that the original F1 deal achieved ...

    F1 Cost per Viewer Hour = Hit
    F1 Cost per Viewer = Hit
    F1 Actual Reach 54% = Hit
    F1 Actual Live Rating = Hit

    I can Guarantee Mark Thompson's "(We have) broadly maintained the reach of our Formula One coverage." will not be accurate, not even close to the 54%.

  • Comment number 14.

    Following on from #11 - I am up for having a go at getting sports rights for the BBC and looking at how it is scheduled to maximise ratings and interest (bang for the buck).

  • Comment number 15.

    Does not Eurosport also have the rights to show the Olympics here in the uk. Also when the BEEB drops a sport ITV4 seams to jump in and does a better job.

  • Comment number 16.

    It's great to see BBC continue to show the major sporting events but how long will it last? With BBC Sport's spending expected the continue fall over the next few years, I doubt whether the BBC will be able to renew these major sporting contract when the next sport deals come in the future. The fundamental problem with the BBC sporting events is that has too many non popular sporting events that not many people watch these days. It would have been better if the BBC stopped showing these sporting events that are not popular to the public instead of reducing showing the very popular events like the F1.

    Will the BBC be continuing to show the Paralympics? It was a stupid decision to let Channel 4 show the Paralympics for 2012. The viewers are going to end up spending more time watching the adverts and sponsors than the actual event. As a result I doubt there will be any people watching the Paralympics. Looks like BBC has no interests in disability sporting event if it does not show the next Paralympics games.

  • Comment number 17.

    Ah yes, here we are again, the BBC lauding the success of Sports coverage that no-one wants to watch. The BBC's OWN survey on the BBC News Channel 2 days ago showed a distinct lack of interst in the Olympics, and We are hosting them!! Ouch. As for F1, well if the BBC can't be bothered to show the British Grand Prix on BBC One, well I will continue to watch on Sky.
    A suggestion. Now that Mark Thompson is leaving, can the new incumbant re-negotiate ALL the events that have been scupperd by him. Football, F1, Horse Racing (bet you forgot the BBC has lost all rights to that too), Golf, Rugby, Cricket...........................Bye-Bye!!! (or should that be Buy-Buy)

  • Comment number 18.

    It is true that when the BBC turns its hand to sport, most of the time they deliver a consistent quality product. The Wimbledon, Euro 2012 and F1 coverage have all been excellent as usual, with the lack of commercial breaks a bonus for the viewer.

    But that is one of the reasons why you are criticised so highly for shedding rights. The BBC should play a large role in protecting big events from paywall televison. Barbara Slater was happy that while horse racing was lost, it went to Channel 4 a terrestrial rival. It would have been fair and consistent if that had happened to Formula 1.

    The BBC kept half the coverage, but saw fit to congratulate itself for doing so. With no thought for the some of the millions of devoted fans some of which have been following for many many years. The lost half went behind a paywall, out of reach for so many and the viewing figures tell a damaging story.

    The Canadian GP was watched by an average of 6.27 million on BBC1 last year, This year on Sky 1.63 million with 2.3 million staying up late to watch the BBC highlights.
    Its a similar situation with the other races.

    This outrage will continue for 5 years, long after the dust has settled at the Olympic Stadium.

    I hope , I really pray that if F1 has a British World Champion this year or beyond, he wins it live on BBC1 so that he gets the profile and exposure that he deserves and he can inspire the future generation. If such a moment was hidden away on a subscription channel it would be a tragedy

  • Comment number 19.

    #18 - There is a disproportionate number of people who come onto these blogs and advocate the virtues of F1 on the BBC. The reality is that most people would not care if F1 went fully onto Sky. The 'big' sports in terms of viewers in the UK are clearly Football, Cricket, Rugby, Tennis, the Olympics and Golf. These, with the right packages (e.g., highlights for PL Football), can attract good bang for the BBC's buck. There are other sports which are dirt cheap and also attract good bang for the BBC's buck (Horse Racing, Athletics and Snooker being three). It is these things the BBC should focus on - not F1.

  • Comment number 20.

    Mark why don't you just do the decent thing and sack Barbara Slater? Under her reign (and yours in all fairness) BBC Sport has become pitiful at best.

  • Comment number 21.

    When I win the lottery, can I give you £150million to wrestle the Formula 1 rights away from Sky? Or will I need to give Murdoch's pal Jeremy a bung first to change the regulations?

  • Comment number 22.

    #19 diesel001 - It would seem obvious that you are not a regular viewer of F1. The same could be said of Rugby - 90% of it is on Sky already so I could argue that no one would notice if the 6 Nations & RWC went there as well. F1 has higher viewing figures than Cricket, Rugby or Tennis. Only the FIFA World Cup and Olympics have higher figures and they are not held every year.

    Most of the F1 teams are based here and there is a motorsport industry underlying the sport here in the UK which holds up thousands of jobs. TV is the most accessible link with its fans. Consider also that we have had two World Champions in the last four years which has boosted the sports popularity - last year the viewing numbers were at a 10 year high.

    You miss my point. F1 didn't have to stay on the BBC, just on a free to air platform, Channel 4 were interested, ITV and Channel 5 should have been given an opportunity to bid for the rights. I love football and cricket as well, I have elderly relatives who miss out on test match Cricket they had been watching for decades because their pensions wont stretch to a Sky subscription.
    F1 fans will keep coming onto these blogs to complain because their voices were not heard and they were lied to, as there is no other way to protest. I make fair points only to advocate the sport I love, and I feel it should have been made accessible to all through terrestrial coverage.

    Darts, MotoGP and domestic Athletics have a following in this country and they should have a free to air platform as well. Your argument is flawed. The French Open and Horse Racing are fully free to air and that is all I wanted for F1.

  • Comment number 23.

    Here we go again the BBC telling us how wonderful they are. Mark needs to better informed about before he tries to write about them. The BBC does not have exclusive rights to the Olympics because Eurosport also has the rights. Eurosport is providing over 100 hours of live Olympics in 3D as opposed to the BBC,s mainly recorded 3D output. In any case the BBC does not have the resources to cover the Olympics properly. This year the BBC was saved by Sky providing 24 SD and 24 HD channels.

    The BBC's coverage judging by the last Olympics is not very good. Too much talking heads compared with sporting action. All spoilt by the BBC's low quality pictures.

  • Comment number 24.

    The Olympics deal is good news assuming we get similar levels of coverage to what we are going to be getting in a couple of weeks time, 24 extra HD streams etc. however my attention was drawn to this statement...

    "the recent near-flat renewal of Premier League highlights (now including BBC iPlayer rights)"

    How hard was that when it's rumoured the BBC were unopposed? Is spending approx. £60m pa on the increasingly tired and outdated MoTD value for money?

    Looking around this is more than ITV are spending on their new Champions League deal 9m pa less than Sky are paying for all their live football league rights. It's only 5m pa less than Sky are paying for their ECB cricket contract which gives a bucket of load of live content! It could also of been used to keep F1 exclusively live.

    Perhaps the BBC should be a bit more ambitious with their limited resources going for live rights rather than paying through the nose for highlights rights that no one else wants.

  • Comment number 25.

    Agree with you #22. 19 obviously does not like F1, and has missed the point anyway. The F1 rights, along with many, many other sports, have been given away to other Broadcasters, who, by their nature, can not show uninterrupted and/or free to air coverage, so the BBC can spend squillions of pounds on an Athletics Event that last for only Two weeks in a Four year period.

    We, the Licence payers have a right to watch Sports and Entertainment Programmes that We like. By spending this money, OUR MONEY BBC, on things that compromise coverage of other programmes, including the regular Entertainment Programmes that you should offer as an alternative, you are failing in your duty to the people who pay your way.

    Is it not time that the BBC actually ASK us what we want the Licence fee to be used for? I bet EastEnders comes higher on the list than the Olympics!!!

  • Comment number 26.

    #9 woodleyblue: you don't need Sky to watch the Tour de France. It's free for everyone on ITV4, although not in HD.

  • Comment number 27.

    I only have one thing that will make me happier with BBC's sports coverage.

    Please stop treating us like children with the ridiculous cartoons that ruin MOTD2 and the unnecessary dramatic movie style introductions that preceded a lot of the Wimbledon matches. Most people I know are watching for the sport itself and not to be patronised with false drama/humour.

  • Comment number 28.

    I think the BBC should give up on sports completely, as Sky are well worth far better value than the BBC. I think the BBC should get rid of the TV Licence Fee completely, as they are not value for money and they should take commercials as I begrudge paying for the TV Licence as I never watch the BBC, far preferring Sky.

  • Comment number 29.

    I expressed concern in Roger Mosey's blog a few weeks ago that the new director general would walk away from the Olympics. As it happens the IOC brought the bid timetable forward and the BBC have thankfully shown some commitment. My worries followed the BBC's retreat on European golf, and their failure to match Channel 4's bid on horse racing, and the Paralympics. The F1 deal was a very expensive deal; I was upset it was renegotiated-unlike those sad people whose lives will never be the same I can live with it. Trev is wrong at #23-the 24 HD and SD channels are on Freesat and Virgin as well.

  • Comment number 30.

    @19. diesel001

    It's simply not true that as you say "The 'big' sports in terms of viewers in the UK are clearly Football, Cricket, Rugby, Tennis, the Olympics and Golf."

    The BBC Trust's own report into the BBC sports rights concluded that ...

    F1 Cost per Viewer Hour = Hit
    F1 Cost per Viewer = Hit
    F1 Actual Reach 54% = Hit
    F1 Actual Live Rating = Hit

    Other sports in the report:

    Euro 2008 Cost per Viewer Hour = Miss
    Euro 2008 Actual Reach 35.2% = N/A
    Olympics 2008 Cost per Viewer Hour = Miss
    Olympics 2008 Actual Reach 42% = Miss
    Olympics 2008 live Rating = Miss
    Open Golf 2009 Cost per Viewer Hour = Miss
    Open Golf 2009 live Rating = Miss
    Snooker 2009 Cost per Viewer Hour = Miss
    Snooker 2009 live Rating = Miss

    Only Wimbledon tennis comes close to the (former) popularity of F1, even so F1's (former) cumulative reach throughout the year is nearly double that of Wimbledon, despite Wimbledon having more broadcast sessions.

    Formula 1 'was' the BBC's most popular and cost effective sport.

  • Comment number 31.

    Sorry, Mark you are patting yourselves on the back for having the rights to events which are 'protected'. The BBC are not at the cutting edge of sports broadcasting, as mentioned earlier if anyone at the corporation was in tune with modern day trends then you would know that it is ridiculous to shell out loads of money on a late night highlights show (MOTD) but fail to keep live sporting events on air such as F1 (The highlight shows are rubbish by the way), The French Open (ITV 4 gave it the treatment it deserved rather then when the beeb only used to show Murray's games) and live coverage of the Football league + Carling Cup.

    Useless, bureaucratic and out of touch describes those in charge at BBC Sport

  • Comment number 32.

    just who will be showing the next paralympics the BBC , Channel 4 or maybe Channel 5 as they seam to be getting sport coverage these days?

  • Comment number 33.

    For the people that say the BBC should take advertising, the BBC does do advertising on channels it owns outside the UK and also on channels it half owns here in the uk such as the UKTV group..

  • Comment number 34.

    I am sorry to say that being a massive F1 fan I was disgusted when the beeb sold out to sky. I cannot afford sky and if I could I would not pay for it as I am not prepared to pay for something I do not want just to watch 10 races a year.
    I am sick of people who say F1 is not popular, you are so wrong !!!! How many other sports get 110,000 attending an event, if you took your heads out of the clouds and looked into the research you would realise it is in the top 5 of sports followed by the British. It is simply we do not shout about it, it gets very little coverage on sports/news reports compared to football,rugby,golf,cricket etc etc.
    They say they could not afford it, what a load of rubbish, there is only 20 races per year which equals 40 days. Compare that to such as football where they may have camera crews and reporters at as many as 10 gounds or more every weekend and tuesday,wednesday nights. Wimbledon fortnight just about every reporter and weather forecaster and pundit is there for 2 weeks and we now have more coverage of tennis than ever before. The olympics, well yes they are here this time but I would not try to imagine how many millions will be spent on the TV coverage far more than they are saving by not covering maybe 2 years of F1, if it was abroad then you can double the figure.

    So much money is spent on sport and then you go and stab the F1 fans in the back by selling out to that evil mans sky, you have no idea how many hundreds of thousands not tens of thousands of fans you have upset and angered. Shame on you.

  • Comment number 35.

    If only the coverage - of whatever sport - could be relied upon to be undertaken in a professional manner that didn't patronise the viewer or kowtow to the presenters rather than the audience it would be a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, almost without exception, BBC coverage fails in this respect. It is as if every programme is directed by an arts graduate rather than someone who understands sports broadcasting. For goodness sake, we really don't want or need the endless pre-match (game/race/set) and post match analysis every time. It seems that whenever I turn on to watch any sporting event, I get yet another interview or special report or clever interlude. Millions could surely be saved by cutting out 80% of this rubbish. For this reason I am dreading the Olympic coverage. Just show me the sports!

    Of course, when we do get to the events, we have to suffer the dismal commentaries. Euro 2012? What happened to unbiased commentary - just endless criticism of the England team. MotoGP? Commentators who surely cannot reach even the minimum standards that the BBC expect, surely? Snooker? Yes, I really need to see a slow motion, close up shot of a ball going into a pocket while you fail to show where the cue ball has ended up! F1? Self congratulatory "presenters" who add nothing to the race and can't hide their preference for certain individuals and teams.

    Please BBC, take a step back and look at your output critically. I fear it falls far short of what you could offer, cheaper, and more satisfying for more viewers that anything you manage at present. (Hint - watch some MotoGP or Tour de France on Eurosport to see things done properly).

    Writing self-congratulatory blogs about how good you are may be good for your own egos but how about listening to your paymasters for once?

  • Comment number 36.

    Oh no, another bucket load of my money being wasted on sport. It's cheap tv, no effort needed to entertain just pump out tedious sport. BBC tv just wants to appeal to the lowest common denominator - the saviour is BBC radio which still manages to stimulate, inform and entertain. Tv you should start learning from radio! Get your act together and stop treating us all as idiot imports from ITV who only want mindless sport.

  • Comment number 37.

    You didn't show the Paralympics the respect it always deserved in terms of TV coverage, and you've paid for it by losing it to Channel 4 - who've shown that they are taking it seriously.

  • Comment number 38.

    Judging by the posts so far, it just goes to show you can't please everyone.

    Reading the posts I started to work out how much I spend on sport going to football [at least once a week more often twice in the season] rugby, greyhound & horse racing, athletics, boxing and anything else that interests me. Yes i do feel fortunate, to be able to do it. Then I added the Sky subscription, all I was thinking HOW MUCH!!!!!!!!!

    Then of course I came to the licence fee and it is still fantastic value for the money they demand.

    I was at the TNS Champions League game last night and blew 1/4 of what I pay in a year to watch the whole of terrestrial tv, in the comfort of my own home.

    It is good value for what is provided and it cannot be compared to Sky a dedicated sports channel.

    Remove sport entirely from the BBC and then see how you all feel.

  • Comment number 39.

    Best of Luck,,,,,,good news

  • Comment number 40.

    Lies, Mark. Pure lies. You speak of a £150 million saving by dividing the F1, but the BBC never had the contract beyond 2013. You should seen out the original deal then walked away if you could not afford it. You probably could afford it however as you turnover in excess of £3billion a year. You extended the Wimbledon and Six Nations spend and coverage this year. Channel 4 had matched Sky’s offer. But you approached Sky to suit your own interests, rather than the fans. The BBC haemorrhages cash on reality shows and an unnecessary and politically motivated relocation, and then you speak of saving money that you never needed to spend anyway. The F1 deal has hurt the viewership for seven years no matter how much you, Dominic Coles or Barbara Slater spin it.

    The viewing figures do not lie. The galling thing is that BBC Sport were actually doing a first class job. They were growing the numbers. Then you chopped it in half. Either do something properly or don’t bother at all. Dominic Coles put his lies in the press this week saying that F1 could have gone 100% to Sky, but that is not true. The Concorde Agreement which governs F1 specifies that there must be free-to-air coverage in their main territories. You cannot pull the wool over our eyes.

    Barbara Slater sits in the Royal Box watching Wimbledon with the celebrities and top brass so we know where her loyalties lie. Would you consider selling half of Wimbledon coverage to Sky to save more money ?
    Once upon a time I cared about the BBC. I trusted and respected them. I still turn to the corporation to provide quality output, but you have betrayed that trust for millions of Formula 1 fans.
    Don’t insult us by congratulating yourself, Barbara Slater, Ben Gallop or Dominic Coles. You have served your own interests and while the Olympics will be a festival of sport and provide great moments for us all it will be over in 3 weeks’ time. F1 fans have to live with your decisions for many years.

    Good Luck with the Olympics.

  • Comment number 41.


    "Dominic Coles put his lies in the press this week saying that F1 could have gone 100% to Sky, but that is not true. The Concorde Agreement which governs F1 specifies that there must be free-to-air coverage in their main territories. You cannot pull the wool over our eyes."

    Correct, the 'current' concorde agreement states

    "The Commercial Rights Holder may not permit Formula 1 events to be shown only by pay television in a country with a significant audience if it would materially adversely affect audience reach in that country."

    And the BBC/Sky deal has adversely affected the audience reach, if you disregard the BBC's '15 minutes of race viewers', that's about 6 or 7 laps of a race, and look at those people who watch 75% or more of the race, up to and including the British Grand Prix, the BBC have lost 34.29% of viewers, while the combined (and not even unique) BBC/Sky viewers are 20.35% down on 2011 figures.

  • Comment number 42.

    In the midst of all this self-congratulation is the sobering thought that the BBC don't hold the live TV rights to any men's football between 11 August 2012 and June 2014 (assuming that they don't purchase the rights to any away World Cup qualifiers).

  • Comment number 43.

    This year, the BBC surrendered rights to the Grand National, the Derby and Royal Ascot.
    There will not be a single race of the country's second most popular spectator sport shown by the national broadcaster next year.
    No live football and no live cricket.

    Well done on a terrific commitment to sport.

  • Comment number 44.

    Just what has BBC sport actually won back from the competition in the last 5 years. Two events if my memory is correct. F1 in 2009 which the Corporation then let half the rights go two years later and the 2015-17 World athletics championships having lost them in 2011. So now lets see what the BBC has lost in the same time. All live football. All Live european tour golf and exclusive coverage of the US Masters. All remaining horse racing. French open tennis. Exclusive coverage of Rugby leagues challenge cup. The BBC has retained match of the day- a programme that was tired 20 years ago and is now completely exhausted. Most of the other contracts retained are the protected events anyway

    BBC Sport- RIP

  • Comment number 45.

    SO will there be funds available in next year's non-Olympic year for other sports - cricket? golf? rugby league & union? football? F1? horse racing?

    Of course not - slowly & deliberately everything worth watching is being lost to Sky......under Thompson's reign sporting output has become laughable in quantity. Disgraceful for our national broadcaster to which we have no choice but to pay a licence fee.

  • Comment number 46.

    It's not really a case of Olympic 'rights', it's really Olympic 'wrongs'.

    Originally set to cost £2.4 billion (still a huge waste of money)
    The cost is now £9.2 billion and climbing.

    The cost of maintaining the 'white elephant' venues once the 2 weeks are over is astronomical, the Aquatics Centre, which is being taken over by Greenwich Leisure after the Games will be one of the most expensive pools in the world to maintain.

    Grassroots sport funding has actually been cut by 20% to help fund 'elite' athletes.
    The very athletes already getting paid vast sums of money to advertise 'energy drinks', the very same 'energy drinks' the BBC's Panorama found out not only to be bogus, but also unhealthy for people NOT doing a minimum of 1 hours hard exercise per drink.


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