Monday, 20 June 2011

McLaren Team Boss Hits Out At "BBC Axe F1" Story

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has become the latest voice to hit out at what he claims are “significant inaccuracies” in a Sunday newspaper report alleging the BBC is poised to axe Formula One as part of its cost-saving drive.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph Whitmarsh stressed the importance of Formula One staying on free to air television and also highlighted some of the many inaccuracies put forward in The Sunday Times "BBC Axe F1" story.

Whitmarsh in The Daily Telegraph:

"Formula One insiders have been surprised by the recent newspaper reports, since they contain significant statistical inaccuracies, In terms of average viewership, peak viewership and average share of viewership - the three key indices for TV executives – more people are watching Formula One this year than last year or indeed than in recent previous years."

“For example, the average share of viewership for the BBC’s coverage of the recent Chinese Grand Prix, which Vodafone McLaren Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton won, was more than 50%."

“In other words, as many people were watching Formula 1 in the UK that Sunday morning as were watching every other channel combined – including all terrestrial channels and all satellite channels – a staggeringly impressive statistic. And the TV viewing figures for other recent Grands Prix have been massively impressive too."

“It’s crucial to the commercial model of Formula one that TV coverage should remain free-to-air, and therefore universally accessible, and therefore widely consumed and enjoyed by large numbers of viewers – and the BBC delivers that in the UK."

“Moreover, besides the quantity of viewership, the quality of the BBC’s coverage is consistently high too – which is just as important. Also important is the demographic data – which shows that F1 is now attracting an increasing number of younger and female viewers, which is also very positive."

“Formula 1 is the pinnacle of world motorsport – always has been, always will be. As such, it’s appropriate that the BBC should continue to cover it."

“I think it would be very sad, and most unwise, if the BBC were to disappoint so many millions of British sports fans by axing it, and that’s why I don’t believe for a moment that they’d seriously consider doing such a thing.”

A BBC spokesperson also stated on Sunday's "BBC to Axe F1" story “No decisions have been taken and therefore these claims remain speculation.”

Update: Bernie Ecclestone has now too added his voice in support of BBC. Ecclestone: "We want Formula One to stay free to viewers, That is 100%."

"The BBC have done a great job for us and we like their shows and the people obviously like it because so many are watching."

"They did warn me that they were facing problems but, so far, nothing more has been said. I hope they want to keep us because it is such a success and I will do my best to keep Formula One on the BBC."

Related: BBC Anchor Speaks Out About F1 Axe Article

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