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MPs query BBC F1 deal

NEWS STORY
20/03/2008

Only too keen to focus attention elsewhere, having been caught out in one of the worst 'pigs in the trough' episodes imaginable, with regards their expenses, British MPs are now questioning the deal that sees British F1 coverage move from ITV to BBC, two years before the contract was due to come up for renewal.

The decision, which has left fans delighted, mainly due to the fact that races will be shown uninterrupted (ad free), has raised questions in the House of Commons as MPs question how the BBC, which is forever claiming poverty despite the 3.5bn raised in a compulsory public tax each, has been able to afford the sort of money Bernie Ecclestone will have been demanding.

At the weekly Business Questions session, Labour MP Andrew MacKinlay said that BBC's announcement of the deal had been too celebratory, while failing to reveal how much money had been paid for the rights.

At a time when Bernie Ecclestone is calling on the British government to subsidise the future of the British GP, MacKinlay also said the licence fee should be spent on "real sports" as opposed to the "wealthy industry of Formula One".

"In bulletin after bulletin on the BBC, they went on about Formula One being won by the BBC," said MacKinlay. "The question they didn't ask or probe the management was how much the licence-payer is going to have to pay for something which could be provided, and should be provided, on commercial television.

"Isn't it time that the BBC news editors were brought to book?" he added "They should be probing BBC management rather than crawling to it."

Other than the sheer cost, which according to some reports could be as much as 200m, some critics are asking how the news of the F1 deal will sit alongside the BBC's seeming obsession with 'man made global warming'.

Commons leader Harriet Harman has promised to raise the matter with Andy Burnham, the culture secretary. "I'm sure that the top brass of the BBC will have heard what he said, loud and clear," she said.

Then again, like Bernie Ecclestone, the BBC is accountable to no-one, least of all those who provide the money.

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