Formula One TV will be back

Bernie Ecclestone has told the BBC that although he has axed his pay-per-view TV service it does not mean that the Formula One Television operation will disappear completely. Ecclestone is in the process of negotiating deals under which Formula One would become the host broadcaster for races around the world. This would mean that the local TV stations would not have to go to the expense of broadcasting the races and would also mean that the technology that Formula One has developed will be used to improve the F1 show. It would also mean that editing of the F1 coverage would be much more consistent than is currently the case.

This may not happen until 2004 and as a result the staff of the Formula One television srevice have been sent home and it looks like a lot of them will lose their jobs, although if deals are struck for Formula One to create the world feed, the mobile TV unit which currently goes to every race could be back in action again. There are several countries which at the moment do not have host broadcasters as Formula One has supplied the pictures in the past but details of which races are involved are rather sketchy. Australia currently does not have any TV channel broadcasting F1 following the end of the agreement with Channel Nine. Channel 10 is talking about taking the coverage but at the moment no deal has been agreed. Channel Nine used to have a system by which it took the signal from Britain's ITV rather than a Formula One feed. In the United States ABC uses a signal produced by Formula One and that pattern is also followed in a number of other countries.

It remains to be seen what other elements of a Grand Prix weekend will be affected if the full mobile TV unit is not at races. There are a number of systems which are dependent on the fibre-optic "ring" which Formula One television crews used to put around each circuit before the event. These include some of the functions of race control. It would also affect the quality of in-car camera footage as without the fibre-optic "ring" in-car footage has to be sent by microwave link to receivers in helicopters hovering above the track, and that means that the quality is not as good.

Hopefully therefore Formula 1 TV coverage will get better in the future - it just may take a little bit longer than had been hoped.

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