Ecclestone not ruling out forcing BBC to see out contract

Bernie Ecclestone insists Formula 1's switch to ITV for 2016 is not a done deal, and has not yet ruled out forcing the BBC to see out its contract.

Speculation that UK-network ITV was poised to secure an F1 contract from next year increased on Thursday when respected published Broadcast said the broadcaster was close to stepping in.

It comes against the backdrop of the BBC needing to find ways to cut its sports budget, and believing that losing F1 is a good way to achieve that.

Speaking to the Press Association on Friday, Ecclestone said that a final decision had not yet been made, and warned it was not impossible he could force the BBC to see out the remaining three years on its contract.

"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.'" he said.

"They can't leave the contract early.

"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."

Ecclestone said he would ideally like the BBC to continue and, until the fate of that contract is sorted, then it was too early to conclude anything with ITV.

Asked if the ITV deal was going to be put in place, Ecclestone said: "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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About this article
Series Formula 1
Article type Breaking news
Tags bbc, itv