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BBC to be quizzed by MPs over new F1 UK TV deal

2 September 2011


The BBC is to appear before the House of Commons' Culture, Media and Sport select committee next month to answer questions over the new deal that will, from 2012, see it share the TV rights to F1 with Sky.

According to reports by British newspaper, The Daily Mirror, Don Foster, the Liberal Democrat spokesman for Culture, Media and Sport, has written to the BBC's director general, Mark Thompson, to ask him about the arrangement. Under it only half of the races will now be screened live on free-to-air TV in the UK.

His letter follows claims the BBC scuppered any moves for F1 to go to Channel 4 or even return to ITV, with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone having recently been quoted as saying it was the BBC that 'got to grips' with Sky [see separate story - click here].

“I do not believe plans to share coverage between the BBC and Sky promote the best interests of licence 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,” wrote Mr Forster.

“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 1 Management.”

“The least fans deserve is a clear account of what happened,” he added.

John Whittingdale MP, Chairman of the Commons' Culture, Media and Sport select committee confirmed to the 'paper that two BBC executives would be appearing.

BBC Sport declined to comment when asked about the matter, although previously the BBC's director of sport Barbara Slater argued that 'deal strikes a really good balance between continuing to make F1 available and operating in tough financial times'.

Meanwhile in a separate development and on a more positive note, it is being reported by a different British newspaper that the BBC will definitely show full re-runs of the races only shown live on Sky Sports.

The Guardian claims they will be shown through the Red button, roughly three hours after the end of the race, and corresponding with when the BBC shows its highlights package.


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