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Formula 1

Volume 532: debated on Thursday 8 September 2011

I regularly receive representations on sports broadcasting—I doubt whether that will surprise anybody—including on Formula 1 races.

The whole House will be aware that Formula 1 and motor sport more generally in this country is a multi-billion pound industry, with household names such as Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Paul di Resta, McLaren-Mercedes and Red Bull effectively becoming great British brands. Following the shameful decision of the BBC to sell out to Sky, may I ask what the Minister will do to protect this industry so that it is not sold out in the same way that the many fans who will have poor-quality coverage for the next decade are being sold out?

The decisions taken by the BBC about how to spend its own sports budget are, of course, matters for the BBC alone. The Government’s remit extends to the free-to-air television regime. Formula 1 has never been on that list. I was the Minister in charge of looking at the matter last time it came up, just after the election. There was no significant pressure at that point to put it on the list. At this time, therefore, it remains a matter for the BBC, which has to decide how to spend its sports budget, but we will, of course, review all these matters when the list is next reviewed in 2013.