A ruling by the European Court of Justice regarding television rights for the English Football Premier League could have an impact on Formula One.
The matter is still working its way through the various official channels in the justice system, but an advisory decision has been made which would allow decoders for foreign satellite channels to be used to screen Premier League football in pubs and homes in the UK which would avoid big subscription bills with Sky Sports.
While the decision in the courts was based around football, it would affect all sporting broadcast rights across Europe, F1 included.
Formula One have recently agreed new broadcasting deal with Sky Sports which begins next season. The pay-TV broadcaster has the exclusive rights for half of the F1 races over the next few years.
This ruling could obviously impact Sky’s viewing figures with fans choosing to watch F1 on foreign channels for free and even possibly replacing the commentary for BBC Radio 5 Live.
But Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone insists that F1 would adapt, just as it always has done.
‘We’ll wait and see what happens, It’s not been signed off by the High Court yet. But we were ahead of the game a long time ago when we broke away from the European Broadcasting Union in the 1980s and started dealing with TV companies individually and we’ll try to stay ahead in the future and find a way of maximising our revenues. Ecclestone told The Daily Telegraph.
‘As far as we’re concerned the most important thing is to get the largest number of viewers possible to watch F1. We’ll adapt.’
‘Ultimately I think people want something they can see and listen to live with the commentary in sync. As for pubs, maybe what will happen is we’ll give it to pubs for free in the future if that’s what’s needed.’