Ecclestone says TV deal is a good one
Bernie Ecclestone has been quick to deflect flak from the decision to award Sky co-rights to F1 in the future, after the public complained about the reduction in viewing on terrestrial TV.
BBC and ITV have shown the whole season in recent years with the former taking over from the ad-funded channel in 2009, however a drain on resources at the BBC prompted them to seek out Sky to share the cost from next season onwards.
Ecclestone is no stranger to controversy down the years, but wanted to set the record straight with many feeling that it was his decision to reduce the amount of races shown free on the BBC.
He revealed to the Daily Mirror, "They (the BBC) had a contract in force already, from 2012 all the way through to 2014. They got to grips with Sky themselves.
"I spoke with ITV 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.
"We couldn't very well do a deal with other people for them to start doing something next year, because we had that contract. Other broadcasters wouldn't want to wait until 2014 to decide what they wanted to pay."
Under the terms of the new 2012 deal that stretches until 2018, Sky will screen every race live in the UK while the BBC will screen half the races including traditional favorites like the British GP at Silverstone and the Monaco Grand Prix.
The BBC faced losing the right to show F1 altogether when their current deal ran out, if the likes of Channel 4 or ITV had come up with the £45m that Sky put on the table to secure their rights.
He added, "If they (Channel 4) had said they wanted to sign a contract today to start broadcasting for £45m 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.
"I think the two of them will eventually do a good job. Sky aren't going to get the live viewing figures that we had with the BBC, but I think with the combination of the two across all the F1 that is broadcast there will be a lot more viewers.
"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."
F1 fans are notoriously enthusiastic about their sport and, even if their loyalty has been tested by this latest episode, Ecclestone believes that they will be the winners in the end.
He claimed, "That's good for us, good for the teams and good for the fans."