The dust has yet to settle on the announcement that live Formula 1 coverage in the United Kingdom will be shared between the BBC and Sky Sports from 2012-2018.
The revelation, which came early Friday morning, took many involved in the BBC's coverage by surprise and understandably internet forums and comments sections on news stories have been ablaze with complaints about the partial loss of free-to-air F1.
The implications of the deal for F1 fans in the UK and beyond are far reaching, but first it's important to differentiate the facts from the hearsay. The BBC will show 10 of the scheduled 20 races in 2012 live, which will include the Monaco and British Grands Prix, as well as the season finale. It will also broadcast what it calls "extensive" highlights of the races that it does not carry live. There will also be practice and qualifying coverage for every race on the BBC.
Alongside this, Radio 5 Live will continue to broadcast coverage of every race.
Sky Sports will cover every race live, which will include comprehensive coverage of practice and qualifying. It has also promised coverage outside of the races on both Sky Sports and Sky Sports News.
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh put it best when he said: "I don't think anyone should be immediately reacting to say this is good, bad, or indifferent."
The natural reaction of F1 fans in the UK is to shout about the loss of live coverage of half of the races to those who cannot afford, do not want to afford, or cannot even receive Sky for whatever reason. But the nub of the issue is not the consequences, but the reasons for what has happened. This did not happen in a vacuum.
It has been clear for some time that the BBC's F1 coverage was in grave danger of getting the axe.
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