It has been announced that Sky Sports will take broadcasting control of Formula from the start of 2012 until at leats 2018.
However, the BBC will still be broadcasting races, albeit only 50% of races a year. The races that are not shown live on the BBC will be deferred and shown later that night, but onlt as highlights.
It is understood that the races being shown live by the BBC will include the British and Monaco Grands Prix, as well as the season finale.
Sky will show every practice and qualifying session, as well as the races, but there has been outrage from the fans in the last few hours.
Since there are no plans for pay-per-view F1 broadcasts, British and Irish viewers will be forced to pay up to £610 a year (depending on Sky package) to watch the sport.
The BBC has been under pressure in the last few weeks to make cuts. However, since this move will only save the company £16m a year, there is confusion as to why this decision was made.
A few weeks ago, FOTA team principal Martin Whitmarsh stated that F1 must remain free-to-air:
"It’s crucial to the commercial model of Formula 1 that TV coverage should remain
free-to-air, and therefore universally accessible, and therefore widely consumed
and enjoyed by large numbers of viewers – and the BBC delivers that in the UK."
However, it appears he has made a U-turn on this statement, saying today that he sees this deal as “positive”, and that it will be a “good deal for everyone”.
Despite this, he still believes that his FOTA orginisation should “try and reach out to fans [and] listen to them” – quite the hypocritical statement considering the outrage shown online by fans this afternoon.
Personally, this deal will do no good for the casual fan of F1. While the die-hard fans may make the switch to Murdoch’s TV empire, many will become disillusioned with the sport if this issue is not fixed.
Update: Interesting new details have emerged. Both Sky and the BBC will share on-site facilities, as well as commentary teams, although the presentation teams will be different.
The 10 highlight races that the BBC will show are approx. 75 minutes in length, and will be placed at around 5 or 6 pm at night. There will be a brief introduction and after-race analysis, and the race footage is expected to last 45 or so minutes.