Ecclestone warns BBC over F1 contract

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Bernie Ecclestone has warned the BBC he could force it to see out its current contract to show F1 until 2018.

As reported by industry monitor Broadcast, the BBC is keen to end its deal three years early in order to save money, with ITV set to step in and take on live coverage of half the races per season in the UK.

Ecclestone confirmed on Friday that the BBC's future is in doubt but warns there would be a penalty if the broadcaster attempted to terminate its contract prematurely.

"The bottom line is that they are cutting back on all types of sport and if we really, really, really had to, we'd say 'you have got a contract and you better get on with it.' They can't leave the contract early," Ecclestone told the Press Association.

"The Beeb have always done a very, very good job. I have no problem at all with them. It is just they can't afford to continue with what they have done in the past."

And Ecclestone says no decision has been taken on whether ITV could return to take on the BBC contract, with Sky Sports continuing to show live coverage of every race.

Asked if ITV would take over the deal in 2016, Ecclestone replied: "To do that we would have to agree to have that done so I don't know.

"We like the BBC for obvious reasons. It was free-to-air and they did a good job as I say with all the support they gave at the circuit. At the moment I don't know what we are going to do."

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