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F1 NEWS 

Bernie Ecclestone says Channel 5 is an option for F1 if the BBC does not extend its current deal

Bernie Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone has said that he would likely approach Channel 5 first if the BBC elects not to extend its deal to cover Formula 1.

The BBC's current contract to broadcast grand prix racing finishes at the end of 2012, and there has been speculation that budget cuts at the company could make it unable to commit beyond then - or even exit its contract a year early.

Ecclestone told The Sunday Telegraph that he hoped the BBC would choose to continue covering the sport - but admitted there were other options if it did not happen.

"We have got no problem with the Beeb," he said. "I can't see how the BBC could cancel [its contract early]. We could probably sue them."

Speaking about other contenders to keep F1 on free-to-air television, Ecclestone suggested that he would approach Channel 5 owner Richard Desmond.

"Let's wait and see about the BBC because at the moment they want to make a noise," he said. "[I would] talk to Richard, obviously."

He added: "It isn't possible that F1 could go on to pay TV, we wouldn't want to do that."

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