Formula One racing set for return to BBC Sport

By Kevin Hilton

SVG Europe correspondent

Formula 1 motor racing will be back on BBC Television from next season and UK racing fans are getting giddy as racing action goes back to being commercial free.
The UK public service broadcaster has regained the exclusive rights to
broadcast the highly popular sport on TV, radio, broadband and mobile
platforms from 2009 to 2013 inclusively. F1 coverage had been a
mainstay of BBC TV’s sport output before it lost the contract to ITV in
1996. This, and the loss of Test cricket to Sky and Channel 4, was seen
to signify the BBC’s increasing loss of power in the face of commercial
broadcasters with much more money available to bid for the TV rights to
major sporting events.

ITV Sport came to be praised for its
presentation of F1 but fans of motor racing could not come to terms
with the action being interrupted periodically for advertising breaks.
Dominic Coles, director of sport rights for BBC Sport, comments, “F1 is a crown jewel of sports broadcasting, so to bring the
rights back to their traditional home from 2009 is tremendously
exciting. Fans will be able to enjoy uninterrupted, state of the art
and innovative coverage from BBC Sport, across all of our TV, radio and
new media platforms, for the first time since 1996.”

There are
no details as yet of any technology the BBC might use for its
presentation, partly because the deal has only been announced and
partly due to the notorious secrecy of Formula One Administration
Limited, which runs and organizes all aspects of the Grand Prix
tournament.

With the official launch of BBC HD in recent months
high definition is likely to be a priority and there is no doubt that
SIS, the new owner of BBC Outside Broadcasts, will be keen to supply
both scanners and uplinks for the coverage. The director of BBC Sport,
Roger Mosey, has commented that “new media outlets” will play a part in
the coverage and stressed that the money paid for the contract came
from the broadcaster’s existing budget for sport.

“I am delighted to conclude this new deal with the BBC. It is an
exciting time in Formula 1 and the BBC has some innovative new ideas to
consolidate and expand our UK fan base,” says Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One Administration Limited CEO.

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