Monday, 1 August 2011

The Power of F1 Fans

I've written a lot about the new BBC/Sky F1 deal which comes into effect next year. The level of outrage towards this deal is immense - I've never seen this much unrest among F1 fans. The main reasons for this unhappiness vary, and I'll outline some of them further on.

The BBC/Sky deal is basically that Sky Sports will show every F1 practice session, qualifying session and race live. Apparently, no adverts will interrupt the race, however it's unclear whether ads will interrupt any other sessions and it's likely that any pre-race build up will include ads. As well as this, Sky will charge £30.50 per month for the privilege of accessing Sky Sports - on top of the existing Sky subscription fee. Now, to watch free F1 we can go to the BBC. Great! However, we can only watch 10 races live, with delayed extended highlights for the rest of the season. I don't know about you, but 10 full races and 10 select moments doesn't seem to equal a season to me. I also object to highlights programmes - would you watch a football moment for only the goals? No? Then why watch an F1 race for only the overtakes? Oh, and we'll also have to pay a license fee as per usual.

Our options then? Watch a full F1 season live (as we have done for many many years) for a large fee, in turn giving a profit to Murdoch's unethical empire, or watch half an F1 season live and try to avoid seeing the result before the highlights.

So, people need to be made aware of the main causes of outrage and some of the pitfalls of this deal. Such causes include:
  • Paying a huge amount to continue to be dedicated fans - F1 is expensive to watch in person, why should it be expensive to watch it on a television?
  • We're being given no choice of whom we pay. Recently the Murdochs have been central in the phone-hacking scandal - should F1 be affiliated with a company that engages in these practices?
  • The deal was struck when BBC still had a contract. We would have enjoyed free F1 on the BBC until the end of the 2013 season if the contract hadn't been broken
  • Both the BBC and Sky are being hazy on the details of the coverage. There are rumours that the BBC Online and Mobile coverage will be unchanged - does this mean we can watch all races online or does it mean that the coverage is the same as the TV coverage, highlights and selective races?
  • If the BBC had backed away from a deal with Sky, we could have had F1 on Channel 4 or Channel 5. Yes, ads would have interrupted but we could still watch a full season for free - we coped with ads on ITV
  • It was rumoured that the Concorde agreement had safeguards to prevent F1 moving to PPV. Apparently though, the BBC's half-hearted coverage means that this safeguard is bypassed
  • Teams initially seemed worried about the new deal, however now they're all fine with it because they will receive extra income - the fans are not being considered, nor is the obvious drop in audience size
  • Sponsors may object to the deal, meaning that F1 loses more money than it makes as a result of the deal. In turn, should sponsors move away from smaller teams then these teams could be lost
  • The BBC is spending £900,000,000 on a move to Manchester, yet a £45,000,000 contract for F1 is too much. Presenters are also payed the big bucks, but F1's 6,000,000 strong audience and nearly 50% share in all TV viewers isn't enough apparently.
  • An article by Ben Gallop of the BBC got over 6,000 comments, yet the comments section was closed and the comments are apparently ignored.
So, with all these things in mind many fans believe that it's time for their voice to be heard to try and knock some sense into the F1 big boys. F1 fans should be considered in such deals, as well as just the financial implications. Now, a few email addresses and petitions have been posted on the Facebook and Twitter pages of Keep F1 On The BBC (@KEEP_F1_ON_BBC). To make things easier for us fans, here's a list of these email addresses and petitions. Use them responsibly: don't give abuse to innocent people, just make it clear that there are a lot of us who are unhappy. We're drawing the attention of officials to our displeasure, not making their life a misery, so don't make us look bad! You'll find the addresses of people to email on the links.

Keep F1 on BBC Petition

Formula One Teams Association (FOTA)

BBC Complaints

Keep F1 on FTA Petition

Twitition (Twitter Petition)

BBC Sport

Sky Sports

If anyone has any more contacts please feel free to drop me a message on Twitter (@MooEvilBoffin) and I'll add them to the list. Once again, please be sensible if you're going to email anyone - don't make F1 fans look bad. Be polite - we just want to draw attention to the displeasure about the deal, not antagonise innocent people. Hopefully the power of the fans will save F1 and keep it free for all!