Friday, 19 August 2011

BBC/Sky Deal Negotiated Privately By BBC

Bernie Ecclestone claims it wasn't him but BBC bosses who came up with the joint TV coverage deal which has left us F1 fans not so happy. Last week it was revealed Channel 4 also made a big money bid which was rejected with Ecclestone praising their effort.

Speaking to the Mirror about the BBC, Ecclestone: "They had a contract in force already, from 2012 all the way through to 2014.

"They got to grips with Sky themselves. I spoke with ITV too, and came up with the same problem as Channel 4 had. We had a contract with the BBC which didn’t run out until 2014.

"We couldn’t very well do a deal with other people for them to start doing ­something next year, because we had that contract.

"Other broadcasters wouldn’t want to wait until 2014 to decide what they wanted to pay."

When asked if BBC held all the cards, Ecclestone replies "Yes, absolutely. If they [Channel 4] had said they wanted to sign a contract today to start broadcasting for £45m a year, then we would have probably done it.

"But that’s the problem. We couldn’t deal with them, even if they had wanted to."

Bernie now goes into autopilot saying the same lines all who are involved in this deal keep trying to make everyone believe. "I think the two of them will eventually do a good job. Sky aren’t going to get the live viewing figures that we had with the BBC, but I think with the combination of the two across all the Formula One that is ­broadcast there will be a lot more viewers.

“In the short-term, I think that collectively taking in the amount of ­broadcasting that’s going to be scheduled between the two of them next year, there will be more eyeballs watching than we have now.

“That’s good for us, good for the teams and good for the fans.”

You would nearly think when Ecclestone met the team bosses after the deal was announced he sat them down and told them to just keep saying these lines and nothing else as the fans are stupid.

Eric Boulier:"I think it is rather good news and should be positively welcomed by fans,"

Martin Whitmarsh:"Bernie assured me, and I asked him several times, the deferred coverage will not be highlights, it will be a full race.

"That, to some fans, will be very important, depending on exactly what races they are, so hopefully that means it’s a good deal for everyone.

"Based upon that, if it increases the total viewership, and it maintains the ability of free to air for all of the viewing public in the UK, then cautiously it’s good news isn’t it?"

Looks like Ecclestone told FOTA head Whitmarsh the whole race was going to be shown delayed and not just the highlights to get FOTA on board, with it always looking highlights was the intention of all involved. Unfortunately it looks highly unlikely Whitmarsh or any other team boss will stand up to Ecclestone even if they were led astray.

It is also hard to believe the BBC held all the cards when they will have broken the original contract by not wanting to pay the full amount for the years left on it. Ecclestone could have just said as he speculated about before: "I can't see how the BBC could cancel [its contract early]. We could probably sue them.". He could have said, either the BBC show the coverage as before for the last years of the contract or we fine them and show it on Channel 4 or ITV.

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