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Over a lunch last year with Pitpass' business editor Chris Sylt, Bernie Ecclestone revealed that anyone hoping to see F1 on television in high definition could be waiting for quite a while.
Despite claiming to be one of the most high-tech sports in the world, F1 is one of the few not to broadcast in HD. Things got off to a good start with F1 pioneering multi-channel digital feed in the late 1990s but this was cancelled around a decade later leaving the sport with its bog standard low resolution broadcast. There are reportedly 12 million HD TV sets in the UK alone so F1 is clearly lagging behind the times and isn't going down this road fast according to Ecclestone.
You might have thought that Ecclestone would be an early adopter of HD to ensure that sponsors' logos on the trackside hoardings could be clearly seen rather than looking like a murky mess on the TV and even on the official DVD. However, as with everything in F1 it comes down to money.
"If somebody guarantees to broadcast it we'll do it," he told Sylt adding that "we'll do a deal when people are more interested." Ecclestone is referring to enough broadcasters showing an interest in screening the sport in HD in order to cover the costs of producing the footage.
One of the biggest broadcasters of HD footage in the UK is Sky and although Sky Italia screens F1 in Italy, this doesn't even put the channel in pole position to get high definition feed of the sport. "We're not going to spend what it costs to produce that just for Sky Italia," says Ecclestone adding "it'd cost a fortune to produce it just for Sky."
However, there is at least some hope on the horizon as Ecclestone says "we're getting more people who are interested." Time will tell whether enough come forward to give Ecclestone the return he wants.
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