The BBC have terminated its contract to broadcast half of the F1 races live in the UK with immediate effect, with Channel 4 taking over from the corporation.
The BBC took over from ITV in 2009 as F1’s exclusive broadcaster in the UK. From 2012, a sharing deal with pay TV giant BSkyB was announced, with the latter broadcasting all races live, and the Beeb having to resort to live broadcast of half the races. The remaining races were shown in highlights form.
However, as part of a major cost cutting exercise that includes making BBC Three an online-only channel, BBC has now announced that it is completely pulling the plug on its Formula 1 coverage.
"The current financial position of the BBC means some tough and unwanted choices have to be made," said Barbara Slater, the BBC's director of sport.
"A significant chunk of BBC Sport's savings target will be delivered through the immediate termination of our TV rights agreement for Formula 1," added Slater.
"Any decision to have to stop broadcasting a particular sport or sporting event is hugely disappointing and taken reluctantly,’’ he concluded.
BBC’s original deal was supposed to run until the end of 2018.
The move to Channel 4 means F1 retains partial free-to-air coverage in the UK. All live races will be shown without commercial breaks, the channel has promised in a statement.
by Rachit Thukral