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BBC to scrap F1 to keep clog-dancing channelUPDATE
Bernie Ecclestone (R) pushing to keep F1 on BBC
F1 commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone is attempting to persuade BBC executives to retain their Formula 1 coverage. It has emerged that the sport could be cut from the corporation’s program in a bid to save digital channels such as BBC4.
First reported by The Mail at the weekend, it was explained that the BBC is under pressure to make cutbacks, with Formula 1 and its Wimbledon tennis coverage being singled out as possible areas in which to do so. By removing F1, which returned from ITV for 2009 but is costing around one pound per viewer, Wimbledon would be able to keep its contract (which ends in 2014) and BBC4 would remain on air.
With the BBC’s current F1 deal lasting until the end of 2013, several rumors continue to link the coverage with other broadcasters such as Five and, notably, per-per-view platform Sky. Ecclestone, working on behalf of CVC Capital Partners for F1 commercial rights, has insisted that the sport must remain on a free-to-air channel.
“We want Formula 1 to stay free to viewers,” Ecclestone told The Times. “That is 100 percent. The BBC have done a great job for us and we like their shows, and the people obviously like it because so many are watching. They did warn me that they were facing problems but, so far, nothing more has been said.
“I hope they want to keep us because it is such a success and I will do my best to keep Formula One on the BBC.”
06/20/11 The Beeb - which signed a £300million five-year deal to air F1 motor racing in 2009 - is desperate to save the high-brow channel.
Recent BBC4 shows have included one about a mass "flashmob" clog dance in Newcastle.
There is also Secret Life of the Motorway, Caravans: A British Love Affair, Still Folk Dancing... After All These Years and The Beauty of Maps.
The channel struggles to top audiences of more than a million, with most shows attracting just a few hundred thousand.
In contrast, F1 brings in decent viewing figures.
The Canadian Grand Prix drew more than eight million last week and there is normally between two and four million for each race.
But it works out at about £1 per viewer, making it the BBC's most costly show and an easy target for bean-counters.
The average cost of an hour of TV is just 7p per viewer.
Wooden ... but clog-dance TV safe
Scrapping F1 when the deal runs out in 2013 will cover the annual £54.3million budget of BBC4. The proposal will be put to the BBC Trust in the autumn.
An insider said: "Axing F1 could be very controversial. Viewers will be livid."
The BBC said: "No decisions have been taken." The Sun
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