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Could F1 go to pay TV?

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Andrew Benson | 14:57 UK time, Thursday, 21 April 2011

Formula 1's ability to generate major news stories above and beyond the excitement of the racing has never been in doubt, and this week has been no exception. No sooner had the dust settled on Lewis Hamilton's brilliant victory in the Chinese Grand Prix than reports emerged that Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation was considering buying the entire sport.

The stories appeared first on Murdoch-controlled Sky News, quickly followed by the Murdoch-controlled Times newspaper, and they certainly set tongues wagging within F1.

The prospect of the sport being taken off free-to-air television - in the UK, it is currently on the BBC, which took over the contract from ITV in 2009 - and put on pay-per-view has also created debate on social network sites.

So could it happen?

Given that this is F1, it is no surprise that not only is there no definitive answer to that question, but that any explanation of the situation is complicated. I'll try to make it as straightforward as possible.

There are two inter-related issues here - who owns F1's commercial rights, and where it is broadcast. We'll leave the ownership of the sport aside until later and deal with the issue of free-to-air versus pay-per-view first.

F1 is governed by a document called the Concorde Agreement, which binds together the teams, governing body the FIA and the commercial rights holders, currently the private equity group CVC Capital Partners, represented by F1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone.

The Concorde Agreement is secret - so secret that the teams are not even allowed to retain their own copy - but it is known that it contains a clause which dictates that, in major territories, F1 has to be broadcast on free-to-air television.

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The reason for this is that free-to-air TV has much bigger audiences than pay-per-view, and the bigger the audience, the greater the chance of bigger sponsorship deals and therefore financial security and, for the teams, on-track success.

Take F1 off free-to-air TV and the audience would shrink dramatically. The smaller the audience, the less keen sponsors are to be involved, and the less money those that are involved would pay to the teams and Ecclestone.

However, the current Concorde Agreement runs out at the end of 2012, and negotiations to scope out a new one are beginning - at exactly the time that the global economic climate is making the commercial environment increasingly tough.

So teams are about to discuss the contents of a new Concorde Agreement at a time when several are struggling to raise funds and when the amount of money available from free-to-air broadcasters is, in a lot of cases, stagnating or reducing.

In that environment, might the F1 teams be tempted to try to secure their own short-term financial futures by removing the bar to pay-per-view in the Concorde Agreement, so they can free up the possibility of a big pay-day from, for example, Murdoch?

The short answer is that they don't know yet. While teams are beginning to focus on the need for a new Concorde Agreement, they are, in the words of one team principal, "nowhere" on the subject of broadcasting.

It is going to be a thorny and protracted debate, because so much is wrapped up in it:

F1 teams are typically short-sighted and self-interested when it comes to such matters - so it is not hard to imagine that some might see the appeal of Sky's millions as a way of securing their own short-term futures.

The risk with that would be that by reducing its audience, F1 could also reduce its appeal, and put its longer-term survival at risk.

You might think that the teams with least resources at the moment - both from TV revenues and sponsorship - would be most keen on a commercial model that raised more money from pay-per-view. But you would be wrong.

I put these arguments to the Virgin team's sporting director, Graeme Lowdon, who said: "My view is that the sport is served much better in the world of free-to-air for all the reasons you mention.

"F1 is an incredibly popular sport. It's talked about by people. It's the ultimate team game and the drivers are the heroes. If you remove the majority of the public, it removes a lot of the spirit of what F1 is about, as well as the ability for the teams to stand on our own two feet without reliance on the commercial rights holder.

Red Bull driver Mark Webber is interviewed by television crews

The BBC is in the middle of a five-year contract to broadcast F1. Photo: Getty

"It's more important that we have an agenda that grows the popularity of the sport than one that gazes inwardly.

"F1 is way bigger than pay-per-view and deserves its place on the global stage with the viewing figures it gets. We would be concerned if the sport was heading towards a pay-per-view only model.

"The biggest mistake any team can make is to assume you'll never be at the bottom. Look at Williams. They have called it themselves a poor start to the season - and that's an extremely good team. Anyone who assumes they'll always win and argues the financial model on those lines at some stage could come a cropper.

"There are a lot of examples in football - lots of teams have built their model on winning the championship. But only one can win and (beyond that) there's wreckage.

"We have tried to highlight that the model for F1 needs to make sense for the team with the least resources.

"The attraction of free-to-air is it gives you more opportunity to diversify your revenue streams. If we go pay-per-view and find people use other (TV) channels, then we're at risk. At least if you have underlying popularity, you can get your revenue.

"I'd be surprised if a race headlong into pay-per-view would provide F1 with the defences (it needs). Free-to-air provides you with so much flexibility - it means the business is less at risk than if you put all your eggs in one basket."

Of course, there is an opposing view - as expressed by English rugby and cricket executives earlier this week as Sky Sports celebrated its 20th birthday - that pay-per-view can re-invigorate a sport and provide it with much-needed revenues to fund grass roots and youth development. On that subject, the Telegraph has quoted a News Corp source saying the company would "transform" F1.

The issue of who owns F1 is clearly both linked to the debate over free-to-air versus pay-per-view and separate from it.

Ecclestone himself says the potential News Corp sale is a non-story. He told the BBC: "I know Rupert and [News Corp international boss] James Murdoch and Carlos Slim, and if they wanted to do anything they would contact me direct. And they haven't."

Elsewhere, he added: "We would not sell to a media company because it would restrict the ability to negotiate with other broadcasters."

One senior insider said this was one of "Bernie's curve balls - he's always throwing them up; they don't necessarily amount to anything".

And a team principal said he did not think CVC was looking to cash in on its investment in F1. "I think CVC are in it for the long term," he said.

CVC spent £1.8bn on buying F1 in 2006, following the collapse of the previous owners for financial reasons. CVC got into debt doing so, but those debts are scheduled to be paid down within the next two years, after which it can enjoy the huge profits F1 makes.

Any potential sale of F1 is complicated by the fact that the FIA has a veto which it can use if it does not approve of the potential buyer - referred to by Mosley as the 'Don King clause'. And where Todt stands on the issue of News Corp is not known.

Some F1 insiders are sceptical that the story was grounded in reality. "It's built up some momentum pretty quickly," said one, "and I suspect it will die away just as fast."

That may or may not be the case. But the wider conversation is only going to grow in importance over the coming months.

The ownership of F1 is tied up in the Concorde Agreement negotiations. If the teams want a greater split of revenues, that by definition means less for whoever owns the sport. And how does CVC feel about that?

The FIA is also unhappy about its financial arrangements with Ecclestone and CVC. Will it ultimately side with the teams against CVC, with CVC against the teams, or be one of three separate entities all fighting their own corner?

Whether Murdoch is involved in it or not, then, this story is not going away.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    It will be absolutely a scandolous move to take it from free-to-air to pay-per-view. In my view, it is shortsighted since F1 is just beginning to get back its appeal with the Vettels and Hamitons giving it a bit of razzmatazz. It will be unfair to say the least. It has a lot of interest here in Scandinavia but it will surprise you to know that, the knowledge most get about it is from the news and not the live action because it is on pay-per-view over here. As a matter of fact, it is only F1 fans that bother to watch it and nothing else. If the sponsors want a wider appeal, then they should threaten to withdraw their sponsorships. Mike Murdoch and his cohorts should be stopped at all cost. Who knows they might even bid for BBC!

  • Comment number 2.

    Thanks Andrew for some much need focus and common sense around this issue.

    You've brilliantly pointed out that the story broke exclusively courtesy of Murdoch-controlled media entities.

    That the Murdoch empire was able to single-handedly start this whole rumour in the first place is evidence perhaps of the issue of media plurality that Jeremy Hunt is supposed to be considering in Murdoch's proposed takeover of BSkyB.

    No doubt Mr Hunt will set aside his admiration for Murdoch in making a fair decision based on the facts presented to him. When pigs fly.

  • Comment number 3.

    The move from ITV back to the BBC was one of the best things to happen to F1 in the UK. For an absolute start we get The Chain back, we don't have to put up with all the commercial breaks, and we get excellent features on the red button.

    To lose all of this to Sky would be a terrible shame.

  • Comment number 4.

    It would be a disaster to see F1 go onto pay-per-view, and particularly onto Sky. The audience would shrink and the sport would become an irrelevence in the UK. At the moment, the excellent coverage from the BBC means the whole country talks about F1. 2 million tuned in to the early morning races from Malaysia and China this year, which is more than double what Sky could muster for a lunchtime race. Apart from that, for Sport in general it is vital that Sky doesn't monopolise everything, and they are dominating enough sport coverage as it is. The other side to this, that News Corp would actually own F1 is just disgusting, and if such a thing was to come to pass, I for one would quickly lose interest. With the BBC looking to make cuts to its' budgets I urge them strongly not to drop F1, as it is one of the things it covers exceptionally well, and provides excellent value for money.

  • Comment number 5.

    4 - you are spot on. Completely agree.

  • Comment number 6.

    If F1 goes anywhere else but the BBC then the sport to me is dead, The bbc dont get everything right but f1 is surely in their top 3 priorities behind the News and top gear lol! The BBC have transformed F1 from the awful ITV days (This is the amazing action you missed whilst you were being informed you're worth it!!) BBC +F1= MY PERFECT SUNDAY!!

  • Comment number 7.

    The BBC are a joke. Of course it will go to Sky to 'save money' whilst they spend 50m each year on BBC4 which around 30 people watch or however much they spend on BBC3 to show old episodes of Family Guy 3000 times over. They've done excellent coverage although they don't promote it enough. Aside from that excellent. Anyway can't wait to not watch it or watch 5 mins of breaks, 20 mins of F1, 5 mins of breaks etc I won't be watching it if it goes to Sky I'll be watching it online somewhere absolutely livid.

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    Never in a million years will it go pay per view - it would be the death of the sport in my opinion. Why would sponsors only want their brands shown to a quarter of the audience if that. My opinion is that sky are merely positioning themselves now for when the contract is next negotiated for tv rights. Bernie will be encouraging this of course because it will drive up the price. really don't know why he's bothered about the extra pennys at his time of life though. At 104 he isn't going to enjoy it all that much is he.

  • Comment number 12.

    Another excellent blog Andrew.

    Sky monotonises sport coverage and shouldnt be allowed to continue with its domination. At least they dont show adverts during the sport but you wouldnt get EJ running into a garage to grab a team principal on sky! There wouldnt be time for the spontanaeity that the BBC does so well. It definitely shouldnt be cut by BBC.

    On the ownership issue CVC have been great for F1 in sitting back and letting the man in the know run the commercial side. Is Rupert Murdoch going to be happy owning something he cant ultimately control on the regs front? Will News Corp try to bid for the FIA and teams? A media mogul owning and running a sport is wrong - news corp generated this story itself in its own channels what else will it want to generate for its own gains within F1? Its the greatest showcase for the best drivers and engineers in the world it shouldnt become a manufactured, rich mans publicity stunt.

  • Comment number 13.

    It comes down to the BBC not having enough money to keep their current Sports portfolio.
    The Masters has been cut to weekend coverage. The Football league will be dropped when the current deal ends with no news on whether the BBC have even bothered to bid for the highlights package. The 6 nations may well be axed when the current deal ends. Snooker, Darts and Bowls have all seen cut backs too. F1 won't be immune to the cuts either.

    Sky would make a very decent job of the coverage i think. Their Masters coverage was excellent this year as is their football on a weekly basis.

    The BBC need to do more to keep the best of sport but it's all about money i'm afraid.

  • Comment number 14.

    @6 The reason why we have a long build up to the race is because of ITV. In 1996 at the Monaco round for example, there was no build up for qualifying - the coverage started several minutes in, and for the race itself we didn't get the press conference or any post race analysis.

    Now I didn't start watching F1 extensively until it came on ITV, but their coverage is the reason why I'm still watching it now

  • Comment number 15.

    Ifor one would not sign up to Sky . I miss my football, I miss my cricket and i would add F1 to that list happily as a price worth paying,not to give those .......(dont want this deleted lol)......people the right to hawk the nations free thinking and ability to chose to any crass advertiser. It would kill F1,since its viewers are people prepared to "do a bit of work" to appreciate their sport.Not a huge number ,topped up on raceday but a number that has been cultivated upwards by the BBC,S excellent coverage.You could easily see the sport fragment ,as A1 and other formulas would jump for that open market. Further weakening the F1 brand and corporate appeal of its teams.

  • Comment number 16.

    As someone that already has every sports channel I'll ever need, my first impression is that if F1 goes to Sky so be it. It'll be a bummer to have to put up with the ads again but the fact is that not everyone in the UK is a sports fan and plenty non-sports fans seem to resent when there's a large amount of sports coverage on terrestrial TV.

    As post 13 said, the BBC's hands may yet be tied.

  • Comment number 17.

    Agree with 4 and 11. F1 is quite different to other sports in terms of both participation and business model. Unlike most other sports there is a very limited grass roots participation and consequently the effect that Sky's money might have has much less effect in this regard since it cannot be used to fund coaches facilities etc as it can be in cricket and rugby. As a business a larger than normal proportion is based upon ad revenue which would then mean, as alluded to above, that it would be counter productive to greatly diminish the viewing audience since sponsors would be far less willing to pay. That is why to my mind it would be unsustainable for it to appear on pay-per-view, and very short-sighted for any team to favour this option

  • Comment number 18.

    I have to say i don't see this happening. I think Bernie cares to much about the sport to see it go on pay per view TV. I watched it happen with cricket and its pretty much killed the sport. Viewing figures went down from 12 million to a 100 thousand in under a year.

    I dont think Bernies that stupid.

  • Comment number 19.

    There's a big difference between it going to Sky as part of their general sport package or going as pay per view. Fans may watch it as part of a general sports package, but given the years of fairly boring races I really don't think the sport has enough fans prepared to pay to watch each race individually, even though the races have been better for the last season or so. A couple of years ago Bernie actually offered extra options on digital to complement the free-to-air show and I subscribed to that as it only cost a few Pounds for the season and I thought it was good value. I won't be subscribing if it's going to cost hundreds per year however - there's other motor sport I can watch with the package I have now.

  • Comment number 20.

    I think there's a difference between grass roots in field sports compared to motorsport. It wouldn't transform anything, it would make F1 a minority sport that nobody cares about, simply because Murdoch got his filthy hands all over it.

  • Comment number 21.

    Where ITV started the incredible coverage of Formula One, the BBC developed it into something special.

    I don't know what post 13 is saying about Sky covering it would make a good job of it. How can the BBC's be topped?

    It's truly sickening as a long time fan of the sport of the idea of this going to pay per view tv. I don't own sky and nor will I ever own Sky because of the disgusting, filthy people who run the company like Rupert Murdoch.

    If F1 moved to pay per view well then the sport is well and truly dead.


  • Comment number 22.

    Pay per view? Must be joking! As far as I'm concerned if ALL SPORTS were removed from TV it would be great!

  • Comment number 23.

    Why do you call regular broadcast TV "free-to-air"? Isn't it thebroadcaster who is "airing" the show. It's certainly not free for them. I bet it costs a lot. We are receiving the broadcast free, so it is "free-to-receive" or "free-to-view", or have I msunderstood? Please explain.

  • Comment number 24.

    If F1 goes off the BBC i will stop watching it

  • Comment number 25.

    If the technology surrounding pay-per-view improved to make it easier to choose programmes to watch then I can see this happening.

  • Comment number 26.

    I'm really not sure I'd pay for F1 on pay per view. It's not just the cost that's off putting, it's the doubt that the coverage would be as good as the BBC are currently providing. It really is very good, far superiority to ITV's. The presenters have so much obvious enthusiasm for the sport and are a good mix of ages and experience. The forum is an excellent extension to the TV coverage. My only complaint is the total lack of HD on iPlayer. The BBC really needs to either fix that or provide a good explanation. Complaining via iPlayer contact form just gets useless pointless responses that make no attempt at offering a reason for the lack of HD.

  • Comment number 27.

    Would be scandalous but because Murdoch is involved you know it will end up happening and force fans that don't have Sky to either buy it or just miss out. That would be a terrible shame.

  • Comment number 28.

    No to F1 on Sky.

  • Comment number 29.

    As someone living in America, I have to tell you that people over here who have seen the F1 coverage on the BBC find it to be absolutely incredible. The most common comment is "if only they covered NASCAR". You guys should be proud of what the BBC achieves with it's coverage and try to protect it at all costs.
    Indycar over here went down the cable channel route and that has pretty much killed it off.

  • Comment number 30.

    "Whether Murdoch is involved in it or not, then, this story is not going away."

    Knew this was going to happen 2 days ago. What I mean is, this is a non story and its being blown up out of all proportion. There is a 3 week break coming up so the Beeb needs something to roll with to fill space. So 2 days ago I thought, give it a couple of days or so and they'll turn this into an avalanche and make it into a story, and get people all up in arms that Formula 1 could go to sky, when there's no such threat.

    The BBC gets more and more tabloidish by the month, I'm sorry to say.
    (I take no satisfaction saying that).

  • Comment number 31.

    Going to Sky would kill F1 eventually, as the number of viewers is drastically cut then the income from sponsorship deals will also be cut. We'll end up with a sport that's like Indy Car in the US, always looking for the next gimmick to get viewers back in.

    Bernie Ecclestone seems to understand this, and he is very keen to keep F1 on free-to-air television. Any deal with Sky will have to keep F1 off the sports channels, and possibly see F1 racing on Sky One. This would be a good compromise, as people won't have to fork out the extra £20 per month to get the sports channels just to watch F1.

    But, I'd like to see F1 stay with the BBC, there's a great team presenting it, there's no mid-race adverts, and it is and has always been the best place for Formula One in this country. I really hope the teams see sense over money in negotiating broadcast rights.

    On the subject of News Corp's mooted takeover, it wouldn't be allowed through given that News Corp owns quite a lot of the world's media as it is and this would be a conflict of interest in several countries, just as it was when they tried to buy Manchester United.

  • Comment number 32.

    Please, Please, Please no pay per view on sky.

  • Comment number 33.

    I'd love to see NewsCorp pay a ridiculous sum for F1. They would then have to charge so much for each pay-per-view that viewers would find an alternative. Then NewsCorp would go bust and the world would be a better place!

  • Comment number 34.

    I for one (and I thought I would never say this) would prefer to see F1 back on ITV with anoying ad breaks just when things get interesting than on Sky. I very much doubt this would happen as the BBC has over the past 3 seasons done an outstanding job with their coverage. I can't see either ITV or Sky showing all 3 practice sessions or having half the online content that the good old Beb has. Lets hope all this talk of pay-per-view dies out and the the powers within F1 and the BBC have the comon sence to make the right moves so we the fans can watch our beloved sport.

  • Comment number 35.

    I would be distraught if F1 coverage went pay-per-view. Especially if it was Sky. I refuse to put any money into the Murdoch empire, and combined with the simple moral dislike of anything with such a large support base being made pay-per-view means I would have to give up on F1. Reading a headline saying 'Hamilton won the Chinese GP' and maybe a race report is NOTHING on watching a race like the one we had the pleasure of watching at the weekend! Hell, i had the result ruined for me by overhearing a sport bulletin and still couldn't take my eyes off the race!

    Yah-boo sucks to you Mr Murdoch!

  • Comment number 36.

    Sky?... Not !
    PPV is fine if FOM launch a "Personal Worldwide Internet Subscription Service".
    It WILL happen....
    Just a matter of when.


  • Comment number 37.

    I would not pay for Sky to follow F1. I would probably stop watching. Not just because of having to subscribe to a ppv channel or tv system, but with the current changes brought in, given time and an ownership like that, it would just become WWF/WWE etc. Sports entertainment run to a script. At times I think the current F1 since the end of Schumachers winning streak has had a few strings pulled to ensure certain drivers win or lose, and to ensure an unparalleled streak of down to the last race driver championships. We would have sprinklers, heards of clowns running across the circuit, and brash commentary. Think I would rather watch an old race again than subscribe to that generation of F1.

  • Comment number 38.

    Going properly pay-per-view - ie pay for a specific event on top of a Sky Sports subscription - would be suicide for viewing figures in the UK. Only die hard fanatics would pay for it, regardless of cost, and I can't see it happening.

    The more realistic danger for fans and the sport is that there won't be a blanket pay TV deal, but a situation where the majority of countries receive F1 through free-to-air TV, but a few "select" countries who have dominant pay TV companies (UK included) will be used as "experiments" to see how well it works.

    The BBC coverage has been a huge leap over what ITV provided (which, adverts aside, was usually good enough), and I can't see how a move to Sky would improve things for the viewers who would be prepared to pay for it.

  • Comment number 39.

    Andrew,

    What I would like to know (of course I know the BBC won't talk about future rights) is whether the BBC intend to fulfill their current contract through to the end of 2013.

    The rumours around get out clauses this year/next (for the Beeb and Bernie) are concerning for all F1 fans. We all know the BBC won the rights in the first place midway through ITV's contract so is history about to repeat itself?

  • Comment number 40.

    If i remember correctly, F1 was on sky pay per view about 5 years ago (in addition to ITV). It boasted extra camera angles, extra features etc, but only lasted 1 season. I assume nobody wanted to pay the £8+ per race to make it worthwhile. That must be an indicator that pay per view for F1 will not work in the future either.

  • Comment number 41.

    I'd be interested to know what effect this might have on internet broadcasting of the races? And I don't mean tv broadcasts live on the internet, a la BBC in the UK. I mean full-on PPV internet. I think this could be a huge market.

  • Comment number 42.

    I think the sport is safe and Ecclestone is performing one of his media frenzy tricks. He hasn't needed Sky sports through the peak of it's power so why would he change that now? He knows it'll be costly to give the rights to a subscription service because of the reduced audience along with the loss of interest from casual fans and committed fans no longer having access to the live races. From the sponsors view, why buy a house with no windows? They'll go elsewhere or save the money all together. As long as someone with common sense is in charge, which admittedly Bernie only has flashes of, F1 will stay on non-subscription.

    I think what's actually happened is very clever. What's happened is people are now searching for links to the story and it creates exposure for the sport during a longer than normal break. This means you get the pictures and videos of races in blogs such as this with, guess what, sponsor covered cars and team kit. F1 is a talking point, exposure of sponsors and Sky are in the news, everyone wins.

  • Comment number 43.

    A lot of Boxing is now Pay per view, how many boxers can you name. How many British World Champions are there. David Haye, Amir Khan. I can't name any other boxer.

    F1 would seriously suffer. Sky has tried to show F1 before and it failed.

  • Comment number 44.

    Pay per view was/is one of many reasons that killed boxing in Britain. The days of Watt, Magri, Bruno, McGuigan, Honeyghan, Benn, Eubank, Watson are what made me a fan. When it went PPV I've had to carefully select my fights to watch, and I wish I could have ignored them all.

    I'm no fan of F1, but to lose another sport to PPV is gutting; whatever the sport.

    The only way for PPV to end is for peeps to not pay to view. I hope F1 fans make that stand IF it happens.

  • Comment number 45.

    Not a single mention of F1 Digital by commentators or Andrew? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F1_Digital%2B#Launch_in_the_UK

    That was a sky attempt to bring ppv f1 to us at £12 a pop, it got 9,000 people a race watching it. Says it all really. What I do remember though it brought excellent analysis, multiple camera angles and no adverts, something which blighted f1 on itv for years. BBC however has topped this, and all included in the license fee. Bargain.

    Keep f1 free to air, and on the BBC.

  • Comment number 46.

    Ave a look at A1 racing. The world of motorsport is its slogan. When have you seen a race of A1? And where does it get broadcasted? Sky ofcourse

    I rest my case

  • Comment number 47.

    this is a very bbc biased story with bbc biased comments.
    If people want to watch F1 then they will pay for it.
    It would not "kill of the sport" - that's what they said about football when it went on pay tv - look how much money is in it now.

    The reason it wasn't popular on sky before is that it was on ITV at the same time - yes Sky had invented the red button features, however unless you were a die hard camera angle geek then you would watch it free on itv.

    If the only choice you had was to pay for sky sports/ppv to watch it then people would watch it.
    I'm not fussed if it happens - I have bbc and sky sports anyway. If it brings in extra revenue for the teams and makes it more competitive through smaller teams getting more cash then bring it on!

  • Comment number 48.

    Pay per view rescued rugby and cricket because it needed rescuing! F1 is doing just fine without Murdoch getting his grubby hands on it.

    I also don't understand what exactly they could change to 'transform' the sport, I'd personally say that has happened over the last 2-3 years already.

    Really hope this is just hot air....

  • Comment number 49.

    I suspect a lot of people have jumped on the Freeview HD revolution Brucey and would not pay per view it. Ultimately I suspect most would prefer to download it in HD for free, than ppv it, which is another internet based revolution which a lof of people seemed to have jumped on...so it would hurt the sport badly. The lost sponsorship and viewing figures would not be countered by a few TV companies paying a bit more.

    I can only see it as a lose lose, for every current party(viewers and teams) with the only winner being Sky. I don't hold shares in them like Brucey does, so no thanks.

  • Comment number 50.

    Can I ask why people are using the term "free to air"? I have no option but to pay for a TV license. If I want Sky then I have to pay more on top, but there is no such thing as "free" TV.

    Every household in this country, that has a TV, must pay for a license. There is an enormous amount of money generated by this.

    If F1 goes pay-per-view we will have to pay 3 times for 1 programme.
    Firstly, the TV license.
    Secondly, Sky.
    Thirdly, the pay-per-view premium.

    If this happens then I will stop watching it, there is no way I'm going to pay 3 times to risk watching what may turn out to be a boring race.

    It will be much cheaper to wait until Christmas and ask for the season review DVD.

  • Comment number 51.

    BBC coverage is fantastic, moving it over to SKY wouldn't be good at all, But I agree that in principle it is a money thing and who ever bids the most seems to get the coverage, its money not quality of coverage, presenters etc etc that seems to count in the greedy global world we live in nowadays, looks out for viewing figures from sports formally covered by ITV and BBC and in some cases C4 & C5 and compare with them with figures on SKY, i bet you'll find viewing figures not as good ie Master Golf, Football Viewing figures, Cricket figures, do people want money or people watching them, i know which one for me is more important, and it isn't the ££ signs in front of some eyes

  • Comment number 52.

    The UK audience is irrelevant. Murdoch won't care if the UK or even European audience here turns to dust. Murdoch will buy the sport and sell the live streams to broadcasters in Asia like he has done with Premier League footie. The UK audience is small beer compared to the cash he will get from Asia.

    In the UK he will put it on pay per view live and sell highlights rights or replay rights to BBC/ITV/C4/C5.

    A1 went pop because it didn't have the bling of F1 (Ferrari, Lotus, Mclaren, Monte Carlo, Schumacher, Hamilton, Alonso etc). It was great racing but Murdoch doesn't sell great product he sells great brand. F1 can be sold to people who know little and care little about racing.

    Its a real shame but has an air of inevitability about it.

  • Comment number 53.

    Lyla I don't hold shares in sky - just not the biggest fan of the bbc. I pay my licence fee every month even though I very rarely watch anything on BBC, apart from the occasional f1 race (and cbeebies for the kids)

    I wouldn't pay for it if it was on ppv, but I don't think that would happen - you don't even get football on ppv now and its audience dwarves F1's in britain and worldwide.

    good point about internet tv - there is lots of potential for revenue there too with adverts etc

  • Comment number 54.

    Chizzle: F1 on Sky 1? There have occasionally been football matches on that channel but a long term commitment to put sport on there...I know that channel more as the haven of good quality US fiction that the terrestrial channels can't be bothered to treat decently. Weekend afternoon on there at the moment tend to be not much more than reruns though...might work.

  • Comment number 55.

    The two sports mentioned as Sky success stories, cricket and rugby (union at least), have narrowed their fan bases and lost a generation of youngsters to the giant monster that is football. I truly believe Sky has been catastrophic for these sports, regardless of the money sloshing around their administrators' accounts. Overshadowed by Tests, and served up as a side dish to football fans on television, these sports have withered on the vine at club/county level.

    Football is the only winner from Sky, and it always will be, with the very particular exception of rugby league, with its devoted and static fanbase. No other sport has a chance.

    F1's fans have had a lot to be patient about over the last few years. If they are asked to pay to watch, I suspect that for many, patience will finally run out.

  • Comment number 56.

    Adverts in football: Pre-match, half-time, post-match. Same for rugby, hockey, etc. Adverts in cricket: In short game stoppages: overs, wickets, tea, between innings etc.
    ITV adverts in F1: During all the race.

    Tell me how that is good?! If there were adverts in the middle of Tottenham v Arsenal last night I can't imagine that would've gone down very well!

    Anyway, the BBC have such good coverage - commentary, presentation, analysis, so many blogs and write-ups and videos and the Forum....it's all brilliant, it really is, and such a young presenting team, it could go on for years and get better and better.

  • Comment number 57.

    Media companies should be prohibited by law from owning sporting bodies or sports teams. The conflict of interest is clear.

    Have to say though, works for me. The more sport Murdoch monopolises, the less sport I watch, and the more actual living I get done. The sheep can carry on paying their monthly tribute to him. If he can fleece them for even more then hey ho.

  • Comment number 58.

    Suits me. F1 is a load of tedious rubbish. Start in pole, finish in first. Very little overtaking. No excitement. Just a lot of cars going round and round in (essentially) one big circle. I fail to see the attraction. Let it go to Sky, then those people dull enough to watch it can pay for the privilege.

    Not that the BBC will replace it with anything else worth watching, I suspect. Probably yet another property show, soap opera or low-budget quiz.

  • Comment number 59.

    "Why do you call regular broadcast TV "free-to-air""

    Free-to-air means it is sent unencrypted and can be received by anyone with suitable equipment.
    Free-to-view means it is sent encrypted and needs some form of decryption, but that decryption is not subscription based. E.g. if you have a freesat-from-sky card then you can receive it. This is usually done when the satellite footprint covers parts of Western Europe, but the signal is intended only for the UK.

  • Comment number 60.

    Tim: Football dwarfs every sport in terms of fanbase nowadays. I mean I only got into club rugby union five years ago when I was already a longtime club football fan but trying to get old football supporting mates interested in most sports isn't easy.

    I think most sports nowadays are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Either compete with football for attention on the sports channels or be (to varying extents) resented by non-sports fans on the generic channels. Even on what is meant to be a sports blog here you have people wanting there to be less sport on terrestrial TV for a variety of reasons.

    Now personally I don't get G_K's attitude of "less sport...more actual living". Sport for me is the ultimate icebreaker and therefore 'aids' living. Still, loyal sports fans have to accept that that Joe Average is no longer one of us! Hence why we have to accept that more and more sport may dissapear from free-to-air TV!

  • Comment number 61.

    Hi all,

    Thanks for your comments so far - it's an interesting debate that clearly arouses some strong feelings.

    Reading some of your comments, though, it would be worth me clarifying the terminology being used here. When I mentioned "pay-per-view" TV, I was meaning all types of subscription-based services, rather than specifically those where viewers are charged for individual events (eg one-off boxing matches).

    And it is of course correct to say that the BBC is not "free" - it is funded from the universal licence fee. "Free-to-air" TV is a general term which essentially covers anything that is broadcast in an unencrypted form and requires no additional payments to receive it.

    Sorry for any confusion I might have caused.

  • Comment number 62.

    It would be a total scandal if F1 were to become Pay Per View. There would be far less viewers for a start and there is no way Sky could put together such a well versed team as the BBC has. Their coverage is impeccable !! Could imagine a return to ad breaks with Sky which I thought we were well rid of !!

  • Comment number 63.

    F1 keeps banging the drum about doing things "for the fans". DRS, KERS, tyre compounds, everything is done to improve the viewing experience. To sell out every single fan that wouldn't pay to watch would be a complete disgrace.

  • Comment number 64.

    Great news if true-Formula Yawn is the most tedious non-sport in existance. Disgraceful in the first place that the BBC pays incredibily rich men to infest their corporate snorefest on the backs of tax-payers who are not supposed to further enrich billionaires and buy them another yacht to moor in monaco. Pay-per-view is the PERFECT place for this corporate banker-skankers sunday hobby.

  • Comment number 65.

    Question from America...

    Is pay per view in the UK and EU like cable/sat. subscriber fees here in US?

    I pay around $60 per month for something like 400 + channels on DIRECTV which includes SPEED (News Corp. company) and I get my precious F1 broadcasts and coverage.

    Pay per view model here is the US is paying a huge sum for each event and knowing evil News Corp, that means I could end up paying something like $500 per year plus cable/sat. fees just to see F1 on a pay per view model.

    Please say no to this! I would never watch F1 again despite it being my favorite sport and boyhood dream.

  • Comment number 66.

    I read somewhere that the BBC was looking into cutting the amount of money it spends on Formula 1.
    The BBC should seriously consider using sponsored advertising just before and after major sporting events (including F1, like ITV did with Shell when they had the F1 licence). I am sure any sports fan would rather put up with a 5 - 10 second "....xxx is sponsored by..." message/advert than having coverage or additional content cut from the listings.

    Anyone watching these sporting events is usually a sports fan and us fans are used to being advertised at anyway, whether it be all the logos the F1 drivers' overalls are plastered with or all the eye catching billboards surrounding football pitches.
    As long as they can promise that these adverts will only be for sporting events, I'm sure the rest of the general public won't mind too much.

    Without advertising, I don't think the BBC will be able to keep hold of the F1 licence and fend off ITV let alone Sky.

  • Comment number 67.

    From an international point of view I think it is a great idea. All you English people need to be aware that Free to Air on every other TV in the world usually means a 3 minute ad break every 5-7 laps. Think about how much happens in 3 minutes in China or any other race this year.

    Most of the world isn't lucky enough to get uninterrupted BBC coverage to watch the F1. I and millions around the world would be thanking GOD to be able to watch F1 without ad's. That said, its also not the end of Free to Air, they will always be able to carry and race and show it, but they wont get exclusive rights anymore and might have to show it 30 min delayed or something.

    So before British fans and pundits think they represent the rest of the world... leave the UK and fly to the USA, Australia or NZ and watch a race and then comment if you are happy with Free to Air coverage.

    *** Also, remember that you can't access BBC iplayer from outside the UK***

  • Comment number 68.

    I would be very happy for the bbc to use sponsors and adverts... if they did away with the ridiculous licence fee! As long as they didn't show adverts during the race then it'd be fine.

    Are we still the only country in the world that HAS to pay to have a television set in their house wether they watch it or not?

    Yeah the BBC's coverage of F1 is very good, but I don't think it would decrease on sky sports. Would be just as good if not better especially with the chance of vieiwing in 3d!

  • Comment number 69.

    The way F1 is produced for the public is pretty much spot on, and it's popularity stems from that. I know for a fact that other countries don't have the luxury of quality coverage of the sport in the way that the BBC covers it, but nevertheless, it is still good.

    The big worry would be changing something that is successful.

    However, if the teams aren't happy, then they'll have to show their cards. It is perfectly understandable that the teams who provide the actual entertainment want a bigger share of the pot, as without them there is no sport. However, the way F1 is managed as a sport is so much bigger than what the 12 teams could organise between them. Or is it?

    The teams need to decide whether they need F1, or not. Because if they don't, they can break away. If they do, then the balls in F1's court.

    As for the Pay-per-view issue. I'm not sure I understand. To me PPV sounds like a per race thing. That would be hugely unpopular, but being on subscription TV like Sky is very different. PPV in the UK for example just doesn't work. In other countries it is a lot more popular a model. Would having F1 on PPV TV be successful? No, it would end the sport. Would having F1 on subscription TV be successful? Possibly, it is an unknown. The audience would go down, but the money would probably increase in the short term, especially if the coverage is sold in highlights form to free-to-air broadcasters.

    But to compare F1 to rugby and cricket in England is pointless. For those sports it is the domestic game that has been revitalised by the Sky money. This is because the audience is in one country, and has a dedicated following.

    F1 is global, truly. I'm not sure there is anything known as grass-roots in F1. It is the pinnacle of motor-racing. It has no feeder formula in the sense that teams can go in and out. Teams can join if they have money. It's not a pure sport in that sense.

    If F1 needs a revolution, it's needs to have more teams to wield more power. The only way it's going to get more teams is if it's cheaper to participate in. Then the more teams will have to be split up in two tiers. Let's say, two global divisions of 10 teams.

    Until the teams sort themselves out, the management will always win. They hold too much power for merely organising and selling the sport. The teams ARE the sport, they need to get their act together and take the power back.

  • Comment number 70.

    To people moaning about the BBC: It's like moaning about having to pay tax for the NHS.

    If the BBC didn't exist in this country, it would be a lot worse place to live.

    Firstly, does anyone not see the MASSIVE HYPOCRISY in complaining about paying for the licence, and then using the BBC website facilities?

    If we lived in a country where there was only commercial TV to watch, we'd all be very disappointed with that.

  • Comment number 71.

    i hope they dont as it would be the worst decison F1 could ever make in history and could single handley kill off the sport as i know that bernie has make sure there is at least 18 cars on the grid and if they sponsors away that would go as the tv audenice would shrink 80% as if audenice on bbc were 5m i reckon sky would get 800,000 - 900,000. and worldwide the 2010 abu dhabi gp was the 3rd most watched sporting event behind superbowl and world cup final with 380m watching it so loads of sponsors would go with would mean that williams, virgin,hispania and maybe team lotus may fold or even the major car companies and privateers may have a breakaway championship to put on free to air tv

    and also the BBC's Coverage is the best in world no doubt as it shows everything a fan could want and more with classic f1, exclusive interviews (tahnk to EJ) egdomincali germany 10, bernie singapore 10, F1 Forum, every practise session live on red button. and also f1 (according to jake twitter) got 5m which is a record for live chinese gp and that doesn't include re run & i player which could make it up to 7m - 7.5m.

  • Comment number 72.

    I'd be ok with pay-per-view to be honest. I suspect it would kill the sport slowly over a few years but at least we wouldn't have to put up with Jake Humphries anymore. He presents the BBC show like it was a childrens program and he treats the audience as if he is talking to 3-year-olds everytime he opens his mouth. "Oh look Eddie is wearing a frilly shirt to accompany his silly wig...how exciting". At least on pay-per-view us adults, who actually pay the bills, wouldn't have to listen to this childish drivel anymore.

  • Comment number 73.

    Listen right, I'm a big f1 fan, I'm the one that sits up at all hours and watches the free practice at 3am with a cup of coffee because I love it , I'm the one that talks to everyone about it even if they don't listen, and iv loved watching f1 since 1988, iv been to silberstone a few times, but I say this right now with out a shadow of a dout if I had to pay sky a single pound to watch f1 my relationship with the sport would be over, it's no skin off my nose, I don't need it iv got other things to do on a sunday, I love it because it's a people sport that is accessible , I used to lve footy when I was younger but I have never paid a penny to watch a match, never have never will, and the same for this, it isn't a threat that I'm saying to hopefully persuade someone to think again but with a mind to ok I'll get sky sports to got me me m.. . No it's me saying if that happens ya can stick f1 up ya premier leauge pipe and ya can #*#* off . Not a chance not a penny from me, f1 does that and it's ruined. I'd prefer to watch my fish swim than pay sky sports or any other sports provider. I couldn't give a hoot if BBC wanted adverts ut I'm not paying anything except my tv licence for it, so if it did well I'll just say good luck lewis good luck vettle and any new comers but I'll not be subscribing , good bye and good night.

  • Comment number 74.

    Just the mere mention of Murdoch owning F1 makes me feel nauseous.

  • Comment number 75.

    A pay to view F1 is an interesting concept. Us brits struggle with the concept, as we have elite coverage. We all know BBC's coverage is immense, 3 hours plus on race day without a single break. Putting on a 3 hour live broadcast and keeping it interesting and allowing us fans to feel close to the sport is nothing short of brilliance.

    Any threat to this level of coverage is going to be met with skepticism by us. And i don't think any pay to view model would take off here, because we know what happened just when ITV had the coverage.

    However F1 is a global sport, and in most countries the coverage is just that, ITV coverage. Which we all know we wouldn't pay a penny for! However in those countries, the chance to receive a level of coverage like the BBC's is simply not possible at the moment due to the concorde agreement meaning the coverage has to be on free TV. Im sure F1 fans in places like america would be happy to pay a small premium rather than having adverts, indeed the benchmark set by BBC's F1 coverage is so beyond that of any sport, that if i was in the states, i'd be happy to pay the extra for the coverage.

    But herein lies the dilemma, i would never have been an F1 fan if it wasn't free! I watched from a young age, i was hooked when i was 7 and Mansell won the championship! If f1 goes into foreign markets as a pay per view proposition, it will struggle to get new fans. At a time when the competition is as high as its ever been... since 2007, we are seeing a golden age of the sport. To threaten the development of the sport at this stage would be foolish as it's only getting better.

    What F1 needs to do, is find a way to be able to offer BBC level coverage, across the globe, and cheaply or even free to the average person on every street corner. It shouldn't be confined to elite fans, it should be available to everyone.

    But the way the sport is organised at the moment, it's simply not possible. There are 19 tracks, each which operate mostly at a loss for the event each year and pay for the privelage. 12 Teams, which operate as seperate companies, whose revenue stream is a mix of sponsorships and money from being part of the sport. and F1 management/CVC who make all the deals with the tracks and the broadcasters. The commercial rights of the sport are entirely dictated by one company. This creates a very restricted way in which F1 can sell itself and how the companies within F1 can sell themselves IE the teams. For the teams to have the best chance of selling themselves they need the widest audience possible.

    Bernie's next challenge is transforming the worldwide coverage so it matches BBC's coverage, then the fanbase will grow, and then people will pay money. But the racing has to be free!

  • Comment number 76.

    look at the NRL vs Superleague war that reduced the sport of rugby league to near ashes in Australia in the late 90's... unlike his peer Kerry Packer, murdoch cares nothing for a sport in my opinion... he's a vulture... but hey, vultures make good business.. no doubt...

    and when a sport looks weak...

    the vultures circle...

    history and nature both say so...

    look out f1...

  • Comment number 77.

    what's the fuss? it already is ppv.

  • Comment number 78.

    Guys come to India...F1 will always be free-to-air here...

  • Comment number 79.

    1 word FARCE!!!!

  • Comment number 80.

    #77 - it's already ppv if you already have a sky box. If you've gone for a non-monthly fee method for getting your digital TV (because, ooh I don't know, maybe you don't trust Murdoch as far as you could throw him?) then it's the Beeb or nothing.
    Interesting that a story with reportedly no substance breaks through Murdoch's news arms at a time when thousands of homes in Britain are choosing right now which broadcaster to go digital with. And just after a really exciting race too. Suspicious?
    Hope & believe that Aunty will keep F1.

  • Comment number 81.

    Hi all,

    An interesting point to note on this topic is, brilliant as BBC's coverage is, it was contractually obliged to make extra effort. I remember when the rights options were signed Berine and some others interviewed saying that it was not the most money on the table, but that BBC "had" to bring some extra "stuff" to the table in terms of broadcasting F1 like never before, which they have clearly succeeded in doing so.

    Historically speaking, this is not a new tactic with Bernie and his team. They will break new ground with a new entrant or re-entrant into some commercial agreement (I'm thinking tracks here) which he will use as a sharp stick to get better results from others in the same field.

    Don't doubt that Bernie loves the sport, and it's roots (although with Bernie it seems to be secondary to deal making, with earning money in third place) and is prepared to make concessions as long as they are in the long term interests of the sport. The debacle around Donnington / Silverstone is a classic if extreme example. Ultimately, Silverstone got a contract for ever (In comparitive terms) and Bernie gets a shiny track makeover which ultimately benefits everyone in the sport.

    Personally, I would not be surprised if this "news story" was a favour from one billionaire to another, less wealthy, billionaire to top up a long break, as Murdoch and Bernie both have form in this area. I am convinced that the "sprinkler" idea earlier this year was in part to generate an angle away from looking back to the missing opened at Bahrain, which was hardly mentioned at all during the Australia weekend, except in passing.

    Overall then, I doubt a takeover from murdoch is really on the cards, but I do worry that the BBC coverage will go as the only things I watch on television are F1, GT on Bloomberg and the frankly torrid (in terms of broadcast quality) BTCC on ITV and the rallying when I can (Dave!!!), and the stand out programme by many a country mile is the F1 coverage which is frankly a high mark in quality programming all round.

    My only hope is that Bernie uses that big stick he now has in terms of the excellent BBC coverage that he can induce whomever takes over to follow it with something comparable, and for the fans across the world, I am hoping your bradcasting rights renewals go the same way...

  • Comment number 82.

    I can't see Bernie giving up F1 after all the work he's put in to it

  • Comment number 83.

    The BBC do an excellent job with F1 and I like nearly all the other hopes that it stays on the Beeb. That said it would appear with the cutbacks that the BBC have to fund that it is possible that the contract will not be renewed. That would be a shame and whilst SKY do an excellent job they know how to charge for it. I would hope that they didn't have commercial breaks in the race but hopefully we won't have to find out.

    F1 is having good viewing figures and lets hope there can be a way to see it staying on the beeb.

  • Comment number 84.

    F1 shouldn't go anywhere. The BBCs coverage of the sport is incredible - the best I've ever seen. Genuinely funny, informative, pundits who know what they're on about and are engaging while doing so (unlike drab Alan Shearer, Keown etc). The brilliant coverage is the reason I watch the show from start to finish every time - the BBC should be proud of what everyone involved has achieved (including the online content such as this blog), and strive to keep the sport whilst it remains on free to air television.

    Can't see it going to pay per view though, it seems like an impossible non story. But please please keep it away from ITV. Their coverage of the FA Cup is bad enough.

  • Comment number 85.

    F1 should / must / needs to remain free to view and on the BBC. The idea of Sky controlling the output fills me with anger and real fear for the future of F1 in the UK.

    To me, this is a matter of Quality and Access. I make a direct comparison between BBC News and Sky News in relation to Quality, and Cricket where the BBC have excellent coverage of all England matches, but do not broadcast live pictures. Throughout the Ashes, I was having to wait until the next days play almost started before being able to see the previous day's action. However, I read all about the days play on the BBCs "As it happened" meaning that the visual element of the matches only provided clarity of the text.

    I never watch an F1 race live on TV. I always record it and watch it on a Sunday evening. The Far East races are the worse because I have to avoid all news output for the entire day in case the "plot" and winner is revealed!

    Whilst it is a valid point that, even if Sky did take control of F1, the BBC could still air the races - like with Cricket there are likely to be time delay restrictions. Secondly, would the BBC continue to invest the resources they currently do - we would likely have the TMS equivalent: Race Day Special (RDS)! That would still be preferable as Crofty does a great job on R5LSX and covering Practice sessions on iPlayer.

    My final point here is that, with the Digital switchover I made a choice to go Freesat TV together with a Freesat PVR, around a £3,000 investment across the home in equipment. Looking at Sky this morning, to get a basic package with Sports and HD package would be another £250 investment plus £50 per month, or £1,200 per year extra just to watch F1 in HD, as I do today.

    Any move such as this would move F1 to a smaller, niche audience. If democracy has any voice, let this never happen - listen to the people!

  • Comment number 86.

    Couldn't agree with "Formula90210" more if I tried...

    The BBC coverage at the moment is, in my view, the best of any sports coverage on any channel. The slickness of it reminds me of the quality of the BBC World Cup coverage from S. Africa - absoloutely top dollar and devoid of any uncessary smaltzy OTT glitz and showbiz-style nonsense (read Sky Sports Premier League coverage).

    Would be a massive shame to lose that quality to a corporation seemingly intent of controlling our media in the long term. The whole Murdoch saga worries me massively, but that is a debate wider than F1 alone.

  • Comment number 87.

    I despise Sky. Will not have sky in my house ever.

    Hence, I would no longer watch F1 if it went on to Sky.

    Although Sky has done alot for football on tv, I also feel they have ruined it with all the money involved. I liked when football was on at 3pm every Saturday, not all over the shop. I would be so annoyed if I was a season ticket holder and the day I was going changed all the time.

  • Comment number 88.

    Just a few points that I wanted to make, both on this issxue, and in response to some of the questions above re: status of license fees.

    1) "Are we still the only country in the world that HAS to pay to have a television set in their house wether they watch it or not? " as asked by Brucey in post 68. No, we most certainly are not, and have never been. Roiugh estimates show that 2/3 of Europe and 1/2 of ASian and African countries have a similar license fee to ours, with ours being aaround the average price point (if you only take the more affluent countries as obv poorer countries can't afford much). The difference is that our license fee prohibits the company (the bbc) from broadcasting adverts and such. Our nearest neighbour, Ireland, pays around £10 less than us (for fewer channels etc), and on top of this, RTE are allowed to show adverts (and often rwaise a similar amount through the adverts as the licensee fee). Other countries, such as France/Italy where the license fee is less than ours (about 75%), is taken direct from your taxes (!) so you can't avoid paying, AND on top of that, the companies receiving the fees receive around an extra 40% from advertising revenue (and to actually produce less contect across fewer channels). Germany, is another with a license fee - this time about £30 more than ours, with adverts allowed on the channels, and occassional state grants made for certain things! Other European countries, such as Belgium, have a separate radio license that has tgo be paid for, in Belgium's case, £20 for each car you own with a radio in (on top of the £140 for the tv license). Some countries, such as Austria, the license is much higher than ours (£300!).
    Overall, the BBC, thanks to its lack of adverts is certainly not the company that earn the most from license fees, and yet still manage to provide content across 7 major ctv channels, 8 major national radio channels, a whole host of local radios, a brilliant website; on top of this license fee also goes towards the upkeep of the transmitters (both tv and radio), a little will be going to ensure internet connectivity to the region, etc. All in all, I'd call it a bargain, and can't honestly understand how anyone could complain.

    2) Has sky helped cricket? I'd argue, pretty adamently, that it has in fact had exactly the opposite effect. If we rewind back 10 years, to before the advent of 2020 cricket, where we had the county one day matches (and occassionally 4 day games)broadcast on FTA, test and ODIs on FTA, etc. The counties all were attracting the biggest and best names in the sport (the likes of Dravid, Tandulkar, Waugh, Lara, etc all spent significant time playing for counties in the 90s and early 2000s), improving the young players in the country and providing the public with an exciting spectacle. The counties werre partly funded by the ECB grant, but in a healthy state with membership receipts and attendances quite high. Nowadays, after 6-7 years of having county and england cricket entirely covered by Sky and what do we have? A situation where 15 of the 18 counties are posting operating losses (compared to almost none before sky), fewer and fewer overseas players coming over, with counties having to make do with kolpaks and journeymen, FEWER people watching the cricket as a result, less sponsorship money in the coffers of the counties (thus operating at losses), 4/5(!) South Africans in the national side, partly due to fewer english professionals being able to play against the greats as they would have done before, and even those counties with a test match ground (and thus, one would think, fewer economic problems) posting massive operating losses. And don't say this is because the crash - this was happening 2-3 years ago, before the recession really hit. I'd argue that the economic state of thegame today (which is easily at its worst ever) can be blamed fairly squarely on the ECB going for a short term, lets fill our pockets deal with sky; and this can't be allowed to continue if we want to keep cricket as a national sport.

    3) As for those who may complain that the sport is on, well, I'd say to them that we don't complain about the crappy soap operas, reality tv shows, home improvement shows (both big brother and x factor style stuff), quiz shows etc that there are (far more of) on tv, and that as the national broadcasrter, the bbc SHOULD reflect that sport, to a great many of people *is* important/something that they watch, by providing the likes of F1, Wimbledon, the Open Championship, MOTD, Snooker, etc to balance out the staggering amount of mediocre programming aimed at the lowest common demoniator (think Eastenders, most property shows, total wipeout, that dancing thing with brucey, most friday/saturday evening 'entertainment'). Why should we always be the ones to step down and say "maybe there is too much sport on tv"?

    Thats it, rant over.

  • Comment number 89.

    The BBC does an outstanding job of presenting Formula 1, and I speak as someone who only really got into it during the last couple of years. I'm hooked and the more I learn the more I want to watch - and am even going to Silverstone for the first time this summer to watch the British Grand Prix.

    However if it does go to Sky in the future, I doubt I will suscribe JUST for F1, and other sports don't interest me much either. They will lose a fan in me if they do this. Going to pay-per-view WILL lose fans, and struggle to encourage more.

  • Comment number 90.

    I used to enjoy watching test match cricket but murdoch took that away from me and now it looks as though he will the same with other sport that I enjoy, I cannot afford sky tv and even if I could I'm not so sure that I would be willing to pay just to watch 20 minutes of adverts every hour - remember the advert breaks right at the end of the race when ITV had F1 do we really want that again?

  • Comment number 91.

    If this happen I'm wondering how many out of 2M viewers last week will wake-up early morning and pay atleast £45 to access sky with sky sports package just to watch cars racing. Count me out because I won't.

  • Comment number 92.

    I'll pay happily. IF there are NO ADVERTS during the race itself.

    Time for Bernie to put the feed on the web for £200 a year.

    brendan (atlanta)

  • Comment number 93.

    F1, stay away from pay to view, I view very little telly, I choose what I watch and have actively avoided the pay for view market. In health reports we see advice against an excess of telly, it is stopping our kids being active and threatens long-term negative effects on their health. In short I for one would not join in as this principle is bigger than my interest in F1, the BBC have hugely improved the programming and coverage of F1, remember the adverts. A 2 hour race has too many opportunities for an Asda advert or armpit spray to interrupt it. Thanks but no thanks. I know where a supermarket is and I know I can find deodorant when required. I can concentrate for 2 hours and enjoy the non-soap quality of the technical and team challenges faced in F1 and each race changing its demands. Please keep it that way?

  • Comment number 94.

    as I live in Australia and watch the F1 on free to air TV, I also have the Foxtel satellite TV. I would welcome Formula 1 to pay per view, providing they don't go to commercials. The free to air TV in Australia is a very poor set up and they go to adverts every ten minutes or so and you miss things during the commercials, and then your left having to watch a replay. you always get a TV commentator saying, "This is what happened during the break." when are they going to stop that?. I wish i could get BBC on my TV here in OZ. So I hope it does go to pay per view, providing they put a clause in it that there is to be no commercials as you don't pay to watch them, only the sport.

  • Comment number 95.

    Andrew Benson
    "The teams want a bigger share of the total revenue of the sport - they currently receive 47%, with the remainder going to CVC. "

    You need to read the new concorde agreement, you seem to be several years out of date.

  • Comment number 96.

    I have followed F1 since Jim Clark days and have seen many highs and even more lows. Firstly, may I remind you all how downright annoying the ad breaks were when F1 was on ITV? Do you think Sky would run the race uninterrupted? I for one abandoned watching for the last couple of seasons and certainly will not pay to view. There is enough subliminal advertising as it is without breaks flogging stuff you don't want from companies you care even less about. The big question we now need to ask is if F1 is motorsport or entertainment for the masses with short attention spans who are only interested in high speed crashes and general mayhem? I know where I stand. Also is it me, or is the sport becoming less intriguing with multi tyre changes as we are now seeing? What is wrong with one set that can last 200 miles or 2 hours? It works in Moto GP. A choice of compounds that suits the rider/bike combination, then the ability to change tactics and race pace to make them last. No "cheating" with pit stops.It works with fuel stops being abandoned. My final point. The season now is too long and I find devalueing the sport. 16 races maximum, preferably using classic circuits with proper fan bases.

  • Comment number 97.

    Orphiucus: Where are you getting that £45 figure from? Are you talking about regular Sky subscription fees(which I'm already paying?) or potential F1 PPV fees? If the latter, that's unbelievable - it's more than I pay for Exeter Chiefs match tickets!

  • Comment number 98.

    As I can't get $ky even if I wanted to, I am obviously against such a move. I'm sure there are others out there in the same position.

  • Comment number 99.

    "92. At 12:49pm 22nd Apr 2011, brendanstallard wrote:

    I'll pay happily. IF there are NO ADVERTS during the race itself.

    Time for Bernie to put the feed on the web for £200 a year.

    brendan (atlanta)
    "
    ---

    This persons comment just about sums up the TV market.

    People will pay.

    But what they don't realise, or fail to take into account, is that even if you are watching on "free to air TV", you ARE STILL PAYING for it as we ALL have to pay for the licence fee here in the UK.

    Why should I pay the ever increasing licence fee, and then be expected to pay again, for just one or two programmes, and for something that has traditionally been on "free to air" TV?

    I have also read the comments here stating that it's not a financially viable option for F1 to be put on Sky, but what those people seem to forget is that F1 is THE ONLY motorsport, besides BTCC, that isn't on Sky. Everything else is on the sports channels Sky own and run or on Eurosport or some other channel.

    As I refuse to pay for the overpriced subscription Sky expect you to pay for I miss out on a lot of motorsport.

    I sincerely hope this is just a silly rumour started by News Corp, unfortunately the fact that the rumour exists and that Bernie has been so quick to deny it leaves me wondering if it is just a rumour. And Bernie is not adverse to chasing the almighty $, he already does that as it is, so selling out to News Corp would not be a huge leap for him.

    If it is to go to Sky then the "pay per view" prices need to come down considerably, or the subscription price needs to, in order to get people like me to watch their programming.

    And I cannot see that happening ever.

  • Comment number 100.

    Has anyone seen the 007 movie 'Tomorrow never dies' with the media mogul Carter? I think Bernie and this media interest is similar to that storyline. Tomorrow's news today.

 

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