SEPTEMBER 2, 2011
BBC to show full races via the red button?
A month after the BBC's loss of complete live UK coverage of Formula 1 from 2012 was revealed in a shock announcement, the Guardian newspaper is reporting that the half of the calendar not shown live by the national broadcaster will be available on demand via the channel's red button facility.
There was widespread dismay among UK fans when it was revealed that the only way to watch all 2012 races live would be via the Sky Sports subscription channel.
Free-to-air coverage of F1 is also held to be vital to sponsorship and F1's business model and there was immediate controversy about the impact the change would have on the UK's total audience, which is currently higher than it has ever been.
When the announcement was made, the BBC said that it would have an 'extended highlights' package of the races it did not cover live but there remained doubt as to what form the highlights would take and whether they would be 'full race.'
Some argued that, by definition, 'highlights' does not mean full race, but the Guardian's story claims that the entire race will be available approximately three hours after the race, on the red button, at the same time that the highlights package is aired on the main channel. That may partially appease fans who feel let-down by the national broadcaster, whose original exclusive contract ran to the end of 2013.
When the Sky/BBC announcement was made, the BBC said that it was too early to announce the details of their future package. There is, as yet, no confirmation of the latest stories from the network.