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The Fight for Rights
It has just been announced that the BBC and Sky Sports, both of which are sports broadcasting networks, will be sharing F1 rights from 2012 to 2018. What’s more, Sky Sports will be airing the entire F1 season, including the free practice and qualifying sessions apart from the race, while BBC Sport will only be broadcasting half the season’s races, some of which include the British Silverstone Grand Prix, the Monaco Grand Prix as well as the final race to wrap up the season. All other races which will not be aired by BBC Sport will be covered by the network’s radio channel BBC Radio 5 Live. BBC will also show ” live and extended highlights coverage” for all the races, including those that they are not broadcasting.

This, unsurprisingly, has stirred up a big fuss among UK F1 fans. Switching F1 to Sky Sports also means that UK fans will have to subscribe to the channel in order to watch every single race. BBC Sport, which has been broadcasting the F1 seasons since 2009, is a free-to-air channel, therefore it is very easily accessible for all UK fans.

The reason for the shared rights is so that the BBC can cut down on their budget. Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport, has been quoted saying that they “are absolutely delighted” with the new deal with Sky Sports, and that is has enabled them to “deliver(ed) significant savings”, and Barney Francis, the managing director of Sky Sports, claims that the new sharing of rights is “fantastic news for F1 fans”, promising to “give F1 the full Sky Sports treatment with a commitment to each race never seen before on UK television”. Furthermore, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone believes that the new deal enables the sport and its fans to enjoy “the best of both worlds”, since F1 is now being covered on 2 different networks.

The fans seem to think differently though. This new announcement has caused quite a commotion, as UK fans voiced their dissatisfaction and disapproval towards the new BBC-Sky deal, with fans violently objecting to it and stating that they refuse to pay for the Sky Sports subscription, which is expensive and (from what I’ve heard) filled with never-ending advertisements during programmes. Naturally, most fans would be displeased, as it will be the first time that F1 will be broadcasting on a paid channel instead of free-to-air.

And frankly, I don’t blame them!

It seems that F1 has become more about money as the season progresses. Many loyal fans who have been watching and supporting F1 for decades and have never missed a single race will be highly disadvantaged if they do not subscribe to Sky Sports, or are unwilling to pay for their services. The networks and Bernie Ecclestone think that having Formula 1 on 2 networks will be more beneficial as the sport will not be limited to one channel any more. With a wider platform and more coverage, the number of viewers will likely be expected to increase, or even double.

But gathering from the feedback, it looks like it might just have the opposite effect. From the displeasure and discontent, many of the fans might resort to online streaming services in order to watch the entire season. Petitions are even going around, seeking fans to support the cause of keeping F1 on BBC.

In the end, though the deal between BBC and Sky Sports may have run smoothly for them, and are welcomed by both parties, there is still visible (although a somewhat one-sided) ongoing conflict. There is definitely a fight over which network should hold all broadcasting rights to F1 – it’s a fight between the fans and money, over a sport that they feel so much passion for, a sport they have supported for for so many years, only to be snatched right out of their hands by the voracious, insatiable, unquenchable element known to us as money.
Female, 25
Location: , Singapore Singapore
Birthday: 3 April
about: I'm a little girl with big dreams - hoping to become an F1 journalist one day! Let me think of something else more interesting. Then I'll let you know ;)
Interests: Formula One. Forza Ferrari! My heart and soul will always be rooting for this Italian team. Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen (although he's not racing in F1 anymore) are my all-time favourite drivers. It's not about the glamour; it's about pure talent, skill and having the right attitude. That's what makes Formula One the ultimate motor sport to watch.
Occupation: Student. (Hopefully) Future F1 journalist!
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