BBC ends its Formula One contract three years early
‘Financial position means some tough and unwanted choices have to be made’
The BBC have prematurely ended their Formula One contract. Photograph: Michaela Rehle/Reuters
The BBC has announced that it has “reluctantly” ended its Formula One contract three years early.
The corporation regained the exclusive broadcasting rights to grand prix racing in 2009 before agreeing a seven-year deal to share the rights with Sky Sports in 2012.
But the BBC, which has announced a €48million cut in its sports rights budget, said on Monday it has withdrawn from its deal prematurely.
Channel Four will take over the terrestrial rights from the BBC after it revealed it had signed a three-year deal.
In September, the BBC dropped coverage of golf’s Open Championship a year earlier than planned with Sky Sports to take over at Royal Troon next year.
“The current financial position of the BBC means some tough and unwanted choices have to be made,” said the BBC’s director of sport, Barbara Slater.
“A significant chunk of BBC Sport’s savings target will be delivered through the immediate termination of our TV rights agreement for Formula One.
“Any decision to have to stop broadcasting a particular sport or sporting event is hugely disappointing and taken reluctantly.
“There are no easy solutions; all of the options available would be unpopular with audiences.”
It had been reported that ITV, who enjoyed the exclusive broadcasting rights to Formula One between 1997 and 2008, were ready to take over from the BBC.
But that terrestrial void will now be filled by Channel Four who will broadcast 10 races live — without commercial breaks — and screen extensive highlights of the remaining 11 races scheduled for 2016.
Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One’s chief executive, said: “I am sorry that the BBC could not comply with their contract but I am happy that we now have a broadcaster that can broadcast Formula 1 events without commercial intervals during the race.
“I am confident that Channel 4 will achieve not only how the BBC carried out the broadcast in the past but also with a new approach as the world and Formula One have moved on.”