MARCH 20, 2008

BBC lands F1 deal

The BBC has secured the television rights to show Formula 1 in the UK, starting next year. The five-year deal includes radio, Internet and and mobile phone rights. It is 12 years since the BBC lost the deal to rival ITV. The deal comes at a time when interest in F1 in Britain is rising steeply as Lewis Hamilton campaigns to win the World Championship.

ITV had a deal for 2009 and 2010 but it seems that the company decided to forego this because it has too many other commitments.

"I think maybe they will have their hands full with other things," said Bernie Ecclestone. "Maybe the BBC can service us a bit better."

ITV said that it was "a straightforward commercial decision for ITV and we are pleased that F1 will continue to be broadcast free-to-air".

It is believed that the decision is possibly related to negotiations currently going on over the rights to the soccer Champions League, where the two companies have been bidding against one another. BSkyB, an offshoot of Sky, has bought most of the rights for the 2009 to 2012 period for $480m and the two terrestrial broadcasters have been squabbling over the remaining games. It is possible that the BBC has decided to trade the soccer for the F1. ITV has already made a big investment in soccer with the purchase of live FA Cup and England rights.