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Unease following Sky F1 deal

NEWS STORY
29/07/2011

The reaction to the news that Sky Sports will share F1 coverage with BBC from next year has angered race fans, with many paddock insiders also unhappy.

Shortly after this morning's shock decision, driver turned F1 commentator Martin Brundle tweeted: "Found out last night, no idea how it will work yet I'm out of contract, will calmly work through options Not impressed."

While fans take to message board to express their anger at having to subscribe to Sky and then pay extra for Sky Sports, Williams chairman Adam Parr defended the move.

"I am sympathetic to the fans," he told reporters. "I understand it is difficult, but English Premier League fans have had that for a while haven't they?

"The one thing I would say, which I have said before, I know that whether you are coming to a race or are watching the sport at home and have to do that on pay TV which seems expensive, people have to bear in mind what it costs to put on this show. It is part of the character of F1."

Of course, Parr's words come just weeks after FOTA chairman Martin Whitmarsh admitted that the sport is at the crossroads. The Englishman, who also runs the McLaren team, admitted that more is needed to be done in terms of involving the fans in what is a "data rich" sport. However, it was his constant use of the word "monetize" that should have caused concern.

While Barbara Slater, Director of BBC Sport, is "absolutely delighted" that F1 will remain on the BBC, albeit only half the races and the rest shown as highlights, British fans can at least take comfort that the money saved will be spent on quality programmes such as 'The Wall', 'Total Wipeout' and 'Snog, Marry, Avoid' et al.

Despite the widespread outrage, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is equally delighted, telling reporters in Hungary that the deal is: "Super for F1.

"It will mean a lot more coverage for the sport," he added. "There'll be highlights as well as live coverage on two different networks now, so we get the best of both worlds."

It's worth noting that while the BBC will have coverage of the British Grand Prix, Monaco Grand Prix and the final race of the season, a note to editors in the official release claims: "If there are an odd number of races in the season, the final selection will be screened exclusively live by Sky Sports."

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