pundit Mark Blundell has echoed the sentiments of Virgin Racing sporting director Graeme Lowdon in arguing that pay-per-view television coverage for the sport would be a bad move – contending that the unsuccessful previous experiment just under a decade ago should be ample deterrent.
One of the products of the raft of recent speculation that Rupert Murdoch's News Corp group is eyeing a potential takeover of F1 has been the notion that the 80-year-old Australian-American media mogul could additionally – or perhaps alternatively – secure broadcast rights to the sport for BskyB once the current deal with the BBC
expires at the end of 2013.
That would engender with it a shift to pay-per-view coverage, but Lowdon is adamant that F1 is 'served much better in the world of free-to-air' [see separate story – click here
]. Whilst acknowledging that much will depend upon the terms of the new Concorde Agreement due to be discussed this summer, Blundell – who began 61 grands prix for Brabham, Ligier, Tyrrell and McLaren
between 1991 and 1995 – tends to agree, and suggests the sport would do well to learn from past mistakes.
“Pay-per-view is nothing new for F1 in the UK,” the 44-year-old – who has recently been confirmed alongside erstwhile F1 sparring-partner Johnny Herbert and Audi DTM new boy Edoardo Mortara in a Volkswagen Golf for June's Nürburgring 24 Hours – told GPUpdate.net
, alluding to Sky's F1 Digital+
package of 2002.
“We've seen it before and it didn't work, basically. I think it would be a crying shame if it went to that – I think it should be free-to-air access, and I think that's probably what appeals to most of the sponsors and manufacturers.
“To say what's going to go on with F1...what a question! I think you could have several answers but, ultimately, we have to understand what's going on with the new Concorde Agreement, which is to be put together very soon.
“There's a situation in which an investment company owns a product and maybe wants to exit, to get a return on its investment. We've got somebody (Bernie Ecclestone) who's been in F1 for 30-odd years and in some way doesn't own what he used to but still has the ultimate control, by the looks of it from the outside world.
“There are so many ingredients. Then throw in the FIA at the same time and we've really got some interesting times ahead of us. It's going to come to a stage when we will get a new owner of F1, that's for sure, but whether it's in the short or long-term, we'll have to wait and see.”