Jun.8 (GMM) Free-to-air television coverage of Formula One could end in Britain, chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has hinted.

Bernie Ecclestone, CEO Formula One Group, with Pasquale Lattuneddu, of the FOM
Bernie Ecclestone, CEO Formula One Group, with Pasquale Lattuneddu, of the FOM

Photo by: xpb.cc

His comments follow the announcement that Rupert Murdoch's pay-channel Sky Italia will broadcast the sport in Italy in 2013.

A similar arrangement is already in place in Britain, where Sky shares the rights with the BBC's now limited free-to-air coverage until 2018.

The next step for Britain, Ecclestone suggested to F1 business journalist Christian Sylt, could be Sky getting the rights exclusively.

"We will never move all countries to pay-per-view only though it wouldn't make any difference here in the UK," Ecclestone told the Guardian.

The 81-year-old said Sky already reaches about 10 million of Britain's 25 million households.

"We don't get 10m on the BBC, normally about 6m or 7m," said Ecclestone.

"The thing that TV stations want to buy most is live sport. People don't want to watch delayed stuff because nowadays it's hard not to know the result if you don't want to."

He said Sky has done "a super job" so far, adding that the BBC had become complacent.

"The Beeb were sure we wouldn't be able to go anywhere else," said Ecclestone.