Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Don Foster Urges Commons Discussion Over BBC/Sky Deal

An update on the BBC/Sky deal from Liberal Democrat Don Foster below. Source bathlibdems

Don Foster MP urges House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee to discuss F1 broadcasting deal

September 27, 2011 12:18 PM

Loyal Formula One fans are justifiably outraged by the situation in which the BBC has left many licence fee payers following the BBC and BskyB formula one deal.

Many people remain, understandably, concerned about the lack of accountability and unclear circumstances that resulted in a deal, that they believe was not done in the best interest of licence fee payers and fans. There remain many unanswered questions.

What happened?

In early September, Don Foster MP wrote to the BBC's Mark Thompson and Formula One Management chief executive Bernie Ecclestone. He was primarily "concerned that F1 fans in the UK, who are also licence fee payers, had no one speaking up for what was in their interests." Particularly discomforting were the claims that the BBC was the main facilitator of the end result. The apparent discrepancies between the accounts given by FOM and the BBC of what happened - and even changes to those accounts - has done little to help the situation.

Following publication of Don's letters numerous complaints appeared on the BBC blogs. However, it appears that the BBC deleted many comments on the basis that they were 'off topic'. Why did the BBC quickly downgrade the prominence of the debate and not allow an open forum for discussion and debate?

Recent developments

Don's letters have successfully triggered a round of private discussions with those involved in the deal, including between Don and Bernie Ecclestone.

Don is shortly to have a meeting with the BBC's Head of Sports.

To date, none of the key players (BBC, F1 and BSkyB) are publicly commenting on the grounds that they are unable to release commercially sensitive information.

However, the BBC has made clear that it has had to respond to a significant cut in its Licence Fee income and the requirements placed on it to fund services (such as the World Service and S4C) which were previously funded directly by the government.

But questions remain.

In particular, did the way the BBC do a deal with BSkyB prevent other free-to-air broadcasters (ITV, C4 and C5) bidding to to a similar deal?

The BBC has said, it did not block any other broadcaster from submitting a bid for the rights to F1 either on their own or in conjunction with another broadcaster...Bidding for the rights in conjunction with Sky was in the best interests of all licence fee payers given the need to deliver a balanced portfolio of sporting events.

This is contrary to Bernie Ecclestone's earlier claims that BBC 'held all the cards', He has quickly abandoned his line of argument claiming we would have loved to have stayed with the BBC but they could guarantee nothing (Quoted in the Express). As such, a deal without BskyB was 'not realistic'. This has merely added to the confusion.

The future

Don will meet with the Head of BBC Sports but, as with his discussions with Bernie Ecclestone, it may be that he is barred from making public the outcome.

It is hoped that when the House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee meets, in the near future, with Mark Thompson and the BBC Trust chairman, Lord Patten, to discuss governance issues, questions will be asked about the F1 deal. However, this is a matter for the committee on which Don Foster does NOT sit and, currently, the indications are that the matter may well NOT be raised.

Don Foster has written to the Chairman of the Committee, John Whittingdale MP, asking that the issue is discussed. Don also hopes that - with pressure from their own constituents - other MPs will do likewise.

If you want to help, please contact your own MP asking him / her to write to the Select Committee Chair, John Whittingdale MP, and ensure the F1 broadcasting deal is discussed at the next House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee.

You can find out who your MP is by clicking this link and entering your postcode: 

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Lewis Hamilton Street Demo Bangalore

India gets a taster of the upcoming grand prix as Lewis Hamilton burns some rubber in Bangalore in his 2008 championship winning McLaren. Filmed by NDTV.

Below Hamilton talks about the enthusiasm for Formula 1 in India.

News From Singapore With Inside Grand Prix

A roundup of the news from the Singapore grand prix weekend by Allianz. Includes Mark Webber loosing his cool with a reporter. To be fair to Webber, he has probably being asked that deeply irritating question countless times this year so you can hardly blame him for eventually snapping.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Petrov & Lotus Renault's Disaster At Singapore

Vitaly Petrov talks about Lotus Renault's worst race of the year that included Petrov finishing behind the Team Lotus of Heikki Kovalainen.

Vettel, Webber, Horner & Newy Discuss Singapore

Red Bull Racing talk about Singapore and Christian Horner gets a scare while being interviewed by Lee Mckenzie.

Extended video below for the hardcore Red Bull fans.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Massa Confronts Hamilton After Race

Emotions boiled over in a Lewis Hamilton German TV interview after the Singapore grand prix. Felipe Massa aggressively grabbed Hamilton by the shoulder turning him and sarcastically congratulating Hamilton. Lewis responds with "Don't touch me, man. Don't touch me" Probably just as well Felipe never done anything else for his sake as Lewis has a black belt in martial arts.

Massa further reveals his frustration with Hamilton in the BBC post race interview.

Related   Smedley Tells Massa To Destroy Hamilton's Race  

Friday, 23 September 2011

Hamilton & Button Preview Singapore

McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton preview the Singapore grand prix weekend.

After the two practice sessions today -

Lewis Hamilton

Practice 1 - 1st
Practice 2 - 3rd

"We were competitive in P1, but in P2 there was a larger gap to the front and we started struggling a little with the rear tyres.

"There are some areas out on the track where the bolts are coming out of the kerbs - they must be taking some serious force from the cars. On a couple of the corners - Turns Three, 13 and 14 - the exit and apex kerbing has been removed, so some drivers were using the extra track.

"We don’t yet know whether or not the kerbs will be reinstated tonight, so I continued driving as though the kerbs were there. If they’re not replaced, then we should gain an extra couple of tenths by being able to run as wide as some of the others did.

"Either way, we’re going to improve the car overnight; we’ll change the set-up a little bit. Qualifying will be very important tomorrow, because a good starting position for the race will be vital. Then, looking after the tyres will be key; we’ll be making adjustments to limit the rears’ sliding, and also to make them last longer."

Jenson Button

Practice 1 - 5th
Practice 2 - 10th

"During P2, I locked up into Turn 14, but I just kept it out of the barriers. I selected reverse and started to pull back slowly, but then I had no drive. I tried to turn the car around, but there was no room. So I tried to reverse again, and something wasn’t working with the gearbox. We looked at the ’box once we got the car back to the garage, and it’s now happily resolved.

"I only ran the Prime tyre today and didn’t really find a great set-up. It was a little disappointing not to do any more running, because I couldn’t improve the package. Still, we have some good ideas for tomorrow and I’m confident we’ll make more progress.

"I think everybody will struggle a little with tyres during the race - they seem to be overheating quite quickly. So it’s going to be a bit tough, but we’re all in the same boat."

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Button: This Is The Race We Train For

McLaren's Jenson Button meets with the fans in Singapore and talks about everything from his championship chances to his sometimes frustrations when driving on public roads.

Alonso: Vettel 99% To Champion Already

Ferrari drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa are interviewed by Today in Singapore.

Toro Rossa: Buemi and Alguersuari Learn To Fly

Toro Rossa drivers Sebastien Buemi and Jamie Alguersuari practice indoor skydiving in Singapore. Below the Toro Rossa drivers preview the Singapore grand prix.

Bruno Senna Talks About His Uneasy Road To F1

Interesting interview with Lotus Renault driver Bruno Senna. Bruno discusses the effect his legendary uncle Ayrton's fatal accident had on his own road to an F1 career. Bruno also talks about the challenges of the night race in Singapore.

Petrov And His Struggles To Get To F1

Lotus Renault driver Vitaly Petrov talks about how hard it was to reach Formula 1, especially coming from Russia.

Singapore Grand Prix TV Coverage (BBC)

BBC Red Button Freeview
1055-1235 Live coverage of the 1st practice session.
1425-1605 Live coverage of the 2nd practice session.

BBC Red Button Freeview
1155-1305 Live coverage of the 3rd practice session.

BBC 1 & BBC 1 HD
1400-1630 Live coverage of Qualifying.

BBC 1 & BBC 1 HD
1210-1530 Live coverage of Race.

BBC Red Button Freeview
1530-1630 Post-race analysis and debate. (freeview is 1630-1730)

Why Red Bull Are Successful By Red Bull

Red Bull racing talk about what makes them the team out front in the world of F1.

Singapore Grand Prix News By Allianz

Preview of the Singapore grand prix with Inside Grand Prix from Allianz. Below part two with a look at some of today's stars before they reached Formula One.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Bianchi and Perez Talk About Their Ferrari Test

Ferrari racing news with Sergio Perez and Jules Bianchi. Felipe Massa is also interviewed before his tenth anniversary in Formula 1.

Red Bull F1 On The Run From Texas Cowboys

Red Bull Racing are not only beating every other team in the drivers and constructors championship but they are also in a league of their own where super cool videos are concerned. Tom Cruise isn't included this time around but Texas long horn cows, cowboys, horses and David Coulthard taking a rip around the 2012 USGP Circuit of the Americas track is!

Felipe Massa On Felipe 10 years Ago

Felipe Massa talks about his beginning in Formula One with Sauber and how his driving style has changed.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Kovalainen Laps Singapore Circuit On Simulator

Team Lotus driver Heikki Kovalainen previews the Marina Bay circuit, which hosts Formula 1's only night race.

Rosberg Talks Vision While Button Tests His

Nico Rosberg talks about the vision in a Formula 1 car.

Below Jenson Button tests his vision and peripheral vision and reflexes against McLaren race engineer Jakob Andreasen.

Button Hits Milan While Rosberg Races SLK Monaco

The latest episode from Inside Grand Prix News from Allianz. Jenson Button helps promote McLaren's new showroom in Milan. Meanwhile Nico Rosberg races against someone a bit better looking than the usual drivers through Monaco for a new Mercedes advertisement. Also Sebastian Vettel unveils his co developed Infiniti FX50 at the Frankfurt motor show. Brembo brake facts for the Singapore street circuit round of the video.

Pirelli's Hembery On Schumi Side In Monza Tactics

Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery interview.

Pirelli lap of the Marina Bay street circuit in Singapore.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Italian Grand Prix Official Race Edit

The official race edit from FOM which includes the exact lap 20 blocking from Michael Schumacher that driver steward Derek Daly says should have been punished.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Raikkonen's "Personal Reasons" Visit To Williams Factory (Austria) and (Finland) websites have reported Kimi Raikkonen visited the F1 Williams Oxfordshire factory. According to Finnish broadcaster MTV3 the multiple world championship winning team have confirmed the 2007 world champion was given a tour last week for "personal reasons".

Seems a bit far fetched that Kimi would make a comeback with Williams given their financial situation and Raikkonen's likely wage demands. Add to that why would Raikkonen want to make a comeback with a back-marker team at present.

Having said that, Raikkonen could potentially bring a big sponsor. If he impresses there is a seat the year after open at Red Bull and Ferrari with both Mark Webber and Felipe Massa contracts ending then. Also there is no chance a top team would take a chance on him after been out a couple of years unless they know he still has it.

Anyway with all that said I wouldn't exactly bet on him making a comeback at Williams though hope its true! If it did somehow materialize he would be replacing Rubens Barrichello who still hasn't had his contract extended for next year.

UPDATE: Speaking to Spain's Diario Sport, Kimi: "I have no plans for next year, there are many reasons why I quit formula one and I always said I don't know if it's forever. I never make plans for the next year before January, so I will have to see what will happen."

It's starting to look like this latest Raikkonen comeback story might actually happen!

UPDATE 24/10/2011: Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat states a well connected former Japanese F1 driver Taki Inoue, Friday sent a message to Twitter stating Williams have already signed Raikkonen for 2012. Highly respected German magazine Auto Motor und Sport also reports Raikkonen has started intense physical training.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Song: Imagine Theres No F1

Imagine there's no F1
It's easy if you try
No BBC to help us
Only expensive Sky
Imagine all the people
Living for the Race

Imagine there's no Murdoch
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to hate or cry for
And no Bernie too
Imagine all the people
Watching Sunday's race

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
So we can all see Formula 1

Imagine no presenters
I wonder if you can
No need for DC, Brundle
Or Jake Humphrey the man

Imagine all the people
Sharing the World Championship
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someone can help us
So we can all watch Formula 1

Great stuff by @Formula1Dragon. Link to the petition mentioned at the end


Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Bruno Talks Driver Best Mates & Fan Support

Lotus Renault driver Bruno Senna reveals his best mates among the drivers. Bruno also talks about how he is adapting to his new role of race driver and the increased fan support because of his famous uncle.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Horner Discusses Red Bull's Improved Monza Form

Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner talks about what led to the improved form around the Monza track compared to previous years.

Vettel On One Of The Most Special Victory's This Year

Sebastian Vettel talks about his Monza victory on a track were Red Bull have not been so strong in the past. Vettel also looks forward to the next grand prix which is in Singapore.

Eddie Irvine Not A Fan Of Gimmick F1

BBC Ted Kravitz pit lane report including an expletive filled interview with former Ferrari driver and championship runner up Eddie Irvine.

More from Eddie below.

Alonso & Massa Take Jamiroquai's Jay Kay For A Drive

Ferrari drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa rip up the track with Jamiroquai's Jay Kay in the passenger seat.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Bruno Senna Reflects On Italian GP

Lotus Renault driver Bruno Senna talks about his Italian grand prix. Bruno got his first points in Formula 1 at Monza and is happy to have the Senna name back on the points table. See some Senna video previews of Bruno's late great uncle Ayrton.

Petrov Discusses Being Taken Out By Luizzi

Vitaly Petrov talks about his Monza weekend with the highlight being qualifying 7th. The low point being torpedoed out of the race by a sideways grass flying HRT.

A fans view of the crash and hear the delight of the tifosi when Alonso in the Ferrari is leading the race at the start.

Schumi Radio Distraction When Hamilton Passed

Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn revealing Michael Schumacher was on the radio and missed a gear change which let Lewis Hamilton finally get past.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Hamilton & Button Preview Monza

McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton preview the Italian grand prix.

Hamilton: I Live A Normal Life

Lewis Hamilton has hit back at the media for saying he is distracted with a celebrity lifestyle. The high flying multimillionaire with a girlfriend from the famous Pussy Cat Dolls band was interviewed by the BBC before first practice at the Italian grand prix.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Red Bull Talk Aerodynamics

Red Bull Racing discuss the difference aerodynamics make and look forward to Monza.

Italian Grand Prix TV Coverage (BBC)

BBC Red Button Freeview
0855-1035 Live coverage of the 1st practice session.
1255-1435 Live coverage of the 2nd practice session.

BBC Red Button Freeview
0955-1105 Live coverage of the 3rd practice session.

BBC 1 & BBC 1 HD
1210-1415 Live coverage of Qualifying.

BBC 1 & BBC 1 HD
1210-1515 Live coverage of Race.

BBC Red Button Freeview
1515-1615 Post-race analysis and debate.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Alonso & Massa Preview Monza

Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa talk about Ferrari's chances at the Italian grand prix. Also included Ferrari test driver Marc Gene talks through all the Monza corners.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

David Coulthard In AMG vs Grand Turismo Gamers

Ex-F1 racer David Coulthard in a 570bhp Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG goes up against 6 of the best UK gamers on Gran Turismo 5, to find out who is fastest. Commentary by Martin Brundle and Jonathan Legard.

Old & New F1 Mercedes Compared

Comparison between the modern Mercedes GP W02 and the W196 from the 1950s.

Italian GP Preview Allianz

Inside Grand Prix News by Allianz preview Monza. Includes Brembo brake facts at the high speed track.

Red Bull Speed Jam With Webber & Ricciardo

Formula 1, Nascar, aerobatic and motorbike stunt teams came together for a classic Red Bull event in Cardiff. Interviews featuring Mark Webber and Daniel Riccardo. Also included is the final of the amateur go-karting competition on a custom built street course.

Pirelli's Hembery Discusses The Tyre Fiasco At Spa

Paul Hembery talks about the tyre situation at the Belgian GP. Red Bull pushed the limits with aggressive camber settings. This in turn led to blistering and Red Bull wanting to change the tyres before the race because of safety fears. Hembery also looks forward to Monza which could be called Pirelli's home grand prix.

McLaren 3D Lap Of Monza

Phil Prew at McLaren gives a 3D preview of the legendary circuit at Monza.

Belgian Grand Prix Highlights

The official race edit. Look out for Rob Smedley being really cheerful!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Daniel Ricciardo Dougnuts NASCAR In Cardiff

Daniel Ricciardo demos a NASCAR in Cardiff at the Red Bull Speed Jam. Daniel also talks about how he is "nowhere near the limit I want to arrive at" in HRT but is confident of continuing to push forward.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Red Bull Preview Monza

Red Bull Racing briefly discuss Monza were they haven't had too good a past record.

F1 News Over The Belgian GP Weekend

Inside Grand Prix News by Allianz give an update on goings on in the paddock over the Belgian grand prix weekend.

Senior MP's Letter To Director General Of BBC

Don Foster MP, the Liberal Democrat spokesman for Culture, Media and Sport, letter to BBC director general Mark Thompson below in full courtesy of .

Mark Thompson

Director General

Broadcasting House

Portland Place



31 August 2011

Dear Mark,

I am writing regarding the announcement that Formula 1 races will no longer be broadcast exclusively on a free to air channel, and in particular the explanations that have been offered about how this deal came about.

I do not believe plans to share coverage between the BBC and Sky promote the best interests of license fee payers and motor racing fans. I believe the best result would have been for the rights to remain with a free to air broadcaster, even if this was not the BBC. Neil Land's "Secondary Stage response to complaints" addressed this and other points, and I understand you will be commenting on his explanation shortly. As part of your considerations, I hope you will be willing to look at a number of difficulties I have with what he has said.

My main concern is that your account of who made the key decisions behind the agreement does not agree with the version of events given by Formula One Management.

Bernie Ecclestone made clear that, "We want Formula One to stay free to viewers […] That is 100%" (quoted in The Times, 20 June).

He added, "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" (quoted in The Mirror, 19 August).

Bernie Ecclestone seems to argue that it was the BBC who forced Sky's involvement. The BBC apparently "held all the cards" as there was still time left on the existing contract. He says that Sky were brought to the table by the BBC in the first place: "[the BBC] 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." He has gone as far as saying, "My hands were tied".

By his account, the rights ended up with Sky and the BBC because "[T]he BBC brought Sky to us with the idea of a joint contract […] It was not us who made that decision."

This is in marked contrast to the argument put forward by the BBC and Neil Land, who said:

"Ultimately, it is the responsibility of FOM [Formula One Management] to decide which broadcasters cover the sport. FOM must decide what is in the best interests of the sport, its employees, manufacturers, sponsors and viewers - when choosing its broadcast partners. On this occasion, FOM decided that a broadcast partnership between the BBC and Sky was in the best interests of the sport."

This deal has led to disappointment and anger among fans, and now they have to sift through completely contradictory explanations of who was responsible. The least they deserve is a clear account of what happened. I urge you to give it.

I am also unhappy with how the BBC has contextualised this deal to fans. There are many points I wish to make but for brevity's sake I will settle for three:

1) Neil Land points to shared rights agreements in other sports such as football. But F1 is not the same as football. There are 380 Premier League matches a year, on top of internationals, the Champions League, the FA Cup, the Carling Cup, and so on. There are numerous playing hours to be shared. Putting part of this behind a pay wall does not result in fans being unreasonably denied, as there is still plenty of content for them to enjoy on free-to-air. By contrast, F1 has just 20 races a year. Putting half of them on a pay channel significantly diminishes access to the sport, even with highlights freely available later.

2) Whether F1 is or isn't on the "crown jewels" list is irrelevant. Just because a sport's broadcast rights do not have legislative protection, it does not mean they are fair game under any circumstances.

3) The BBC may broadcast half the races, but this means nothing to fans who want to watch the whole season live. They cannot buy half a Sky package. For them, all of the rights may as well have gone to BSkyB, as it will cost them exactly the same. But this would have violated the Concorde Agreement and the many public statements that FOM have made about the importance of free to air, meaning that the BBC have legitimised the otherwise indefensible situation of fans being denied access to F1.

I am not complaining about the realities of the BBC, BSkyB and FOM having their own interests. Nor do I doubt that those involved in this arrangement worked hard to balance their competing aims. But I am concerned that F1 fans in the UK, who are also licence fee payers, had no-one speaking up for what was in their interests. I am also particularly unhappy at claims that the BBC was the main facilitator of the end result. I very much welcome the steps the BBC has taken to answer criticisms so far but think there remain some glaring problems with the explanations we have been given. I hope you will now be willing to clear up these confusions. I will also be writing to Bernie Ecclestone in the same terms.


Don Foster MP


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