Sky and BBC to air F1 from 2012

In a new UK TV rights deal, the BBC and Sky Sports will share Formula 1 coverage from the beginning of next season through to 2018.

Recent rumours suggested that budgetary constraints were set to force the BBC to abandon its F1 coverage when its existing exclusive deal ran out at the end of 2013, or even seek to end it early.

Under the new agreement, Sky Sports will show every race, qualifying session and practice live, and the BBC will air half the races live, as well as qualifying and practice sessions from those races, with both organisations broadcasting in high definition. As part of its package the BBC will have the British Grand Prix, Monaco GP and the season finale and will show highlights of all races it does not transmit live.

BBC Sport director Barbara Slater said: "We are absolutely delighted that F1 will remain on the BBC. The sport has never been more popular, with TV audiences at a 10-year high, and the BBC has always stated its commitment to the big national sporting moments.

"With this new deal not only have we delivered significant savings but we have also ensured that through our live and extended highlights coverage all the action continues to be available to licence-fee payers."

Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports, commented: "This is fantastic news for F1 fans and Sky Sports will be the only place to follow every race live and in HD. We will give F1 the full Sky Sports treatment with a commitment to each race never seen before on UK television."

"Sky customers with Sky Sports will also be able to enjoy F1 across multiple platforms and devices, including Sky Go."

BBC Radio Five and Sports Extra will continue to cover every race live.

F1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone is believed to have met Rupert Murdoch in London this week. While leading F1 team principals were aware that broadcasting discussions were going on with BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky Sports, the timing of the announcement seemed to be a surprise. FOTA (Formula One Teams Association) chairman Martin Whitmarsh said that he wanted to see full details of the package before offering comment.

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