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BBC to axe F1 coverage?

NEWS STORY
19/06/2011

The BBC is rumoured to be considering axing its F1 coverage in an attempt to reduce its budget by 20% by 2014.

The broadcaster, which receives an estimated 3.5bn each year courtesy of a compulsory tax on everyone who owns a TV in Britain, needs to reduce its spending in the face of the government's refusal to increase the cost of the mandatory licence. Consequently, for some time there has been talk of various services being reduced or completely axed.

In recent months there has been talk of F1 being dropped and now the Sunday Times claims that the British broadcaster has earmarked its coverage of the sport, and that of Wimbledon, to be axed, F1 when its current contract runs out at the end of 2013 and Wimbledon a year later.

The BBC won back the rights to cover F1 from 2009 following a secret deal with Bernie Ecclestone which caught (then broadcaster) ITV completely off guard.

From the outset there was widespread condemnation of the 300m deal agreed with Formula One Management, particularly in light of the fact that the British broadcaster was cutting back in other areas. Furthermore, the sport's image was not seen to fit in with the Corporation's green image.

It's worth bearing in mind that the Sunday Times is part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation which is said - by some - to me making a bid for the commercial rights to the sport, though such a move has been consistently dismissed by Pitpass' business editor Chris Sylt.

"This is speculation," a BBC spokesman told the Daily Mail. "We are not going to get drawn into a running commentary, no decisions have been taken and therefore these claims remain speculation. Any decisions coming out of the process would be subject to approval by the BBC Trust."

Meanwhile, members of the BBC F1 team, Jake Humphrey and Lee McKenzie have both tweeted that they are as much in the dark about the story as viewers, admitting that they have no "inside info" on the story. Both claim that the Sunday Times story contains "many inaccuracies".

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