Ecclestone – BBC held all the cards

Antiques Road Show lovers will be delighted that the BBC has delegated half of next year's F1 coverage to satellite provider Sky.

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone admits that the nature of the public broadcaster's ongoing contract meant that he was unable to keep formula one on free-to-air television in the UK.

"They (BBC) got to grips with Sky themselves,' so the F1 chief told the Mirror. 'I spoke with ITV too, and came up with the same problem as Channel 4 had. We had a contract with the BBC which didn't run out until 2014.'

Asked by journalists whether the Beeb held all the cards in selecting a co-broadcaster, Ecclestone replied: Yes, absolutely. If they (Channel 4) had said they wanted to sign a contract today to start broadcasting for 45 million pounds a year, then we would have probably done it. But that's the problem. We couldn't deal with them, even if they had wanted to.'

But Ecclestone was not anxious about F1 becoming less popular now that it will no longer have free to air coverage. 'In the short-term, I think that collectively taking in the amount of broadcasting that's going to be scheduled between the two of them next year, there will be more eyeballs watching than we have now,' he said.

'That's good for us, good for the teams and good for the fans,' he added.

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