• Broadcast news

Free coverage in the UK could be a thing of the past

ESPN Staff
June 8, 2012 « Arrests mar pre-race gala event | Horner defends Webber's stance on legality claims »
Bernie Ecclestone sounded a warning to the BBC © Getty Images

Bernie Ecclestone has warned that free-to-air coverage of Formula One in the UK could be a thing of the past.

While reassuring fans in other regions that "we will never move all countries to pay-per-view" he said that in the UK the impact of such a move would be limited. His comments come in the light of a new deal in Italy which restricts live coverage of races to Sky Italia.

Speaking to the Guardian Ecclestone said ditching free-to-air coverage "wouldn't make any difference here in the UK … Sky reaches over 10 million households. We don't get 10 million on the BBC, normally about six or seven million".

This season the cash-strapped BBC, which has the rights until 2018, has split its coverage with Sky. While Sky's coverage has been generally welcomed, fans have made clear their anger at having to pay almost £500 a year to see ten races not shown live by the BBC.

"The thing that TV stations want to buy most is live sport," Ecclestone said. "People don't want to watch delayed stuff because nowadays it's hard not to know the result if you don't want to."