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DC and Lee on the BBC, but dissent continues

29 November 2011

Further to the report confirming Martin Brundle's switch from the BBC to Sky Sports ahead of the 2012 F1 season, several of the broadcaster's colleagues have been confirmed as staying put.

Writing in a BBC blog over the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend, Ben Gallop updated viewers on where the channel stands with regard to it planning for next year.

"We're still working things through and are not in a position to confirm everything yet - but we are able to reveal some of the headlines, including which races we will be covering live and how we intend to broadcast highlights of the rest," he wrote, reinforcing the announcements put out ahead of the 2011 finale, "The first thing to stress is that we will be at every race, bringing the season to life for BBC TV viewers.

"Jake Humphrey will be leading our coverage from the F1 paddock, as he has for the past three seasons, and he'll have 13-time race winner David Coulthard alongside him, while Lee McKenzie will be back in place as pit-lane reporter. You may have heard Martin Brundle is leaving - and we wish him well. We will be announcing the rest of our on-air team in the coming weeks."

While the choice of races to be covered live by the BBC [see story here] has caused controversy amongst those fans not planning to take out subscriptions to Sky in order to catch every round, Gallop insisted that there were factors governing which events the channel could select.

"Just to be clear, it wasn't the case that the BBC was simply able to select its preferred ten races to cover live," he explained, "Under the terms of our rights agreement, the allocation was decided through a negotiation with Sky, with each broadcaster able to prioritise specific choices within certain parameters.

"One of our key criteria was to try to avoid too many major clashes with other big sporting events we are covering, particularly the London Olympics next summer. The way the calendar works after the Olympics, the rest of the season on the BBC will effectively alternate between live and highlights races, so there is something of a pattern that viewers can follow.

"While we would obviously prefer to have all the races live, we still have significant airtime over the course of grand prix weekends to devote to F1. We'll have to work harder to let you know when we're on air, but we remain ambitious for our coverage: we aim to provide entertaining, expert programming that appeals to the broadest possible audience."

Gallop also caused uproar on forums [see here] when he claimed not to 'dwell on the reasons for the BBC doing the deal we have on the rights', particularly as he insisted that 'that was debated and discussed when the news was announced back in the summer'.

"The BBC as a whole is facing considerable cut-backs," he reiterated, "We've had to face some tough choices and we recognise that some people have strong views about the F1 deal. But now things have begun to settle down, we are looking forward to next season and the creative challenge of telling the story of the 2012 F1 season in a new way for BBC TV audiences.

"We'll keep you updated as our plans progress over the winter."


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