When explaining how Sky ended up with nearly all of the viewing rights for F1, Ecclestone explained that the BBC, “held all the cards”. Specifically, Ecclestone stated, “[T]he BBC brought Sky to us with the idea of a joint contract […] it was not us who made that decision.” Going a step further Ecclestone was quoted as saying, “We want Formula One to stay free to viewers”
If Ecclestone is to be believed (a big jump) – then the BBC are at least partially responsible for losing its rights to show live F1. This is in stark contrast to Neil Land, Chief Adviser and Business Manager at BBC Sport who commented, “Ultimately, it is the responsibility of FOM to decide which broadcasters cover the sport. FOM [Formula One Management] must decide what is in the best interests of the sport…On this occasion, FOM decided that a broadcast partnership between the BBC and Sky was in the best interests of the sport”.
So which was it? The BBC pushing or FOM pulling? Who made the decision what was “in the best interest of the sport”? For someone who doesn’t (and has no plan to) own Sky Sports – I for one do not think that this decision is in the best interest of the sport. Maybe I am being too short-sighted?
There are two issues here – one is the inconsistencies in the portrayal of events between the beeb and the FOM and secondly, who made the final judgement within FOM (assuming it was made there) that moving away from free to view TV was for the good of the sport? These questions currently remain unanswered!