Fairness to American F1 fans: 2011 British GP on FOX


The Cahier Archive


The British GP was the third of four races this season broadcast on Fox television in the US, the first of which was a marathon Canadian Grand Prix, and at over four hours, the longest ever.  During that race, I was able to follow from a number of different people tweeting during the red flags that FOX did not break programming from the race, showing the entire four hours.  This was definitely an improvement from earlier years when FOX would publish an F1 race in their schedule, and then abandon fans with local baseball game coverage instead.

Following an amazing race yesterday, Formula 1 fans in the US were happy to see the start of what should have been a compelling set of interviews from race winner Alonso as well as from the 2nd and 3rd place finishers Vettel and Webber.

While fans heard from the winner, it was Webber and Vettel many would have liked to hear a few words from, but FOX ended the broadcast before we could ever hear from them.

With Alonso’s win clocking in at just under 1.5 hours, it seems natural that there would have been plenty of time in the shadow of the four hour Canadian Grand Prix to show the two Red Bull teammates interviews, of particular interest to Formula 1 fans after hearing their team principal’s radio call to Webber in the closing laps to maintain his gap to second place finisher Vettel.

Unlike yesterday’s Red Bull team orders broadcast over the world for race fans to hear, television contracts are not matters of public record.  Certainly in this weekend’s race, whatever event FOX was obligated to show as part of their F1 broadcast on Sunday clearly hadn’t ended in American Formula 1 fans’ minds until all three podium finishers had been shown to give their account of the race events during those interviews.

Events like this are not uncommon, and in 2005, UK broadcaster ITV was called out by race viewers on an advertising break during the climactic moments of the San Marino Grand Prix, documented here on page 6 of the Office of Communications (OFCOM)website.

OFCOM’s rules for recognition of natural breaks during sport broadcasts include the following:

  1. Breaks may be taken during intermissions of the particular sport being televised ­ eg, half time, between races, between innings, etc.
  2. In live coverage of long continuous events breaks may be taken at points where the focus of coverage shifts from one point to another of the event ­ eg, after a resume of the current placings in a race and before refocusing on a particular section of the race. Breaks may also be taken adjacent to cut-away discussion or background film insert sequences.
  3. Where edited recorded sport programmes are shown, break points should be selected to avoid creating the impression that some part of the event ­ eg, a round in a boxing match ­ has been omitted to accommodate advertising.

Sounds basic enough – and yesterday’s race had been shown in full for the most part – but as Formula 1 fans in the US, what do we feel is a fair broadcast, and when do we feel the event is over?  Is it after the checkered flag drops and the winner crosses the finish line, or is it after the driver interviews?

In a sport dominated by technology, isn’t it still still about the human drama that makes Formula 1 so compelling?


Filed under American F1 Events, American F1 Fans, F1 and business, F1 and Social Media, F1 broadcasters, F1 broadcasting in America, F1 in America

3 Responses to Fairness to American F1 fans: 2011 British GP on FOX

  1. Robert Keating

    FOX as always does a terrible job!! They think NASCRAP is the “end all” of Motor Racing!! F1 Fans are for the most part not NASCRAP fans. Tape delay , edited programs are not going to increase viewing numbers!!
    Leave F1 to SPEED! Just promote those broadcast’s better!!

  2. Jeff

    They didn’t show the interviews so they could cram another 15 minutes of commercials into the “broadcast”. I watched the race on DVR and was able to complete the entire thing in just under an hour. I made the mistake of watching Valencia live and that cost me an hour of my life in Geico/Progressive commercials. I won’t make that mistake again.

  3. John Mackay

    I agree, having moved recently to the states it amazes me how much time certain broadcasters put aside for nascar, football and baseball.
    It seems that nascar in particular can be a two day event on speed and they don’t even show the race live? I love F1 but would have no interest in sitting watching two days of coverage (mainly commentators discussing nothing), there is only so much to talk about then it is just all padding and extra adverts.

    I am used to UK coverage of F1, Moto GP and WSB which is a lot better, F1 coverage especially. We generally have a live programe which starts one hour before the race and includes driver interviews and a proper pit walk. Then we have the race which as has been said previously has way fewer and shorter adverts cutting it up and finally we have the post race interviews which in my opinion is an integral part of the race.

    I find myself watching the race here and then going straight on line to find out what the drivers and teams thought of the outcome etc..

    Also the world would be a better place if geico and progressive had less air time, it seems that they are the only ones with money at the moment but I am sick of seeing it.



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