The BBC is facing some financial difficulties, and its Formula One coverage could end up being one of the victims, as reports from the UK suggest that the government-owned network could be forced to drop the premier racing series from its schedule.
Unlike private networks, which are free to raise capital from advertisements or pretty much any other initiative they can think of, the British Broadcasting Corporation gets its operating budget from British taxpayers – specifically, a fee which the government collects from its viewers. The government having reportedly frozen the licensing fee amount at its current level for several more years, the BBC may have to cut its budget by as much as 20 percent over the coming few years.
The public broadcasting company only re-acquired the license from Bernie Ecclestone and his Formula One Management in 2009, and its contract is up for renewal in 2013. If the reports prove accurate, the BBC could opt to pass on renewing its costly contract. Coverage of the Wimbledon tennis tournament could also be on the butcher's block, although (thankfully) no mention was made of potential cuts to Top Gear, which remains a big cash cow for the Beeb.
For its part, the BBC has refused to comment on the reports, however, media pundits in the motorsport press were quick to point out that The Sunday Times which ran the story is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation – the same outfit that's been widely reported to be trying to get its hands on F1's commercial rights.