BBC explains decision to ditch F1

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The BBC says it is "reluctantly" cancelling its contract to broadcast F1 to save "a significant chunk" of a £35million per year gap in finances.

It was announced on Monday that F1 broadcasting rights on free-to-air television will move from the BBC to Channel 4 in 2016, with 10 races to be shown live next season. With the BBC's original contract having been set to run until the end of 2018, Director of Sport Barbara Slater says it was too expensive to continue with the deal amid a drive to cut costs.

"The Director General announced recently that the BBC needs to plug a £150 million annual gap in its finances from next year," Slater explained in a BBC blog. "He outlined that two-thirds of the savings would come from ‘scope’ savings, meaning that the BBC would stop doing some of the things that we currently do.

"BBC Sport was asked to deliver approximately £35million of these savings. This was due to the pressing need to realise the savings and the greater flexibility that BBC Sport has to deliver them compared to most other parts of the Corporation.

"No Director of Sport wants to be responsible for reducing the amount of sport on BBC TV. But the current financial position of the BBC means some tough and unwanted choices have to be made. There are no easy solutions; all of the options available would be unpopular with audiences."

And Slater says "a significant chunk" of the £35m is being saved by the decision to drop F1.

"Any decision to have to stop broadcasting a particular sport or sporting event is hugely disappointing and taken reluctantly.

"As part of the exit arrangements we are extending our radio rights deal to 2021 and will continue to cover the sport via our sports news service and the BBC Sport website. The package of TV rights we have foregone will transfer to another free-to-air broadcaster."

Slater added: "These are very challenging times for the BBC and sport is not immune to those financial pressures."

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