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Another blow for public broadcasters as new Sky deal locks out Formula One

Sky has bought the exclusive rights to Formula One from 2019, marking a growing absence of live sports on terrestrial TV.

The new sky deal will come into effect once Channel 4’s new three year deal expires at the end of the 2018 season. The public broadcaster is paying £35m a year to show 10 live races as well as practice, qualifying and highlights.

Sky’s new agreement will run until 2024 and will mean UK F1 fans will only be able to watch the coverage through Sky, which currently broadcasts all 21 grand prix live on its dedicated F1 channel.

Customers who do not subscribe to Sky Sports will still be able to watch the British Grand Prix on a free-to-air Sky channel which is available on services such as YouView. Sky has also promised that at least two other races will be made available on its new free channel Mix and that highlights and qualifying will be available for free.

Formula One Group chief executive, Bernie Ecclestone, said: “I am delighted that we will continue to work together. Sky’s commitment to the sport and standard of coverage is second to none.”

The managing director of Sky Sports, Barney Francis, said: “This is a brilliant deal that takes Sky’s partnership with F1 to the next level. Since 2012, we have demonstrated unrivalled commitment to F1, offering fans innovations including a dedicated channel and the very best broadcasting talent.

“We are pleased to support F1 and look forward to working with them to progress, develop and enhance coverage of the championship during the agreement.”

The announcement marks a growing trend of public broadcasters such as the BBC and Channel 4 finding it increasingly difficult to retain live sports coverage rights. The BBC exited its deal with F1 early as part of a cost savings strategy to save £700m.

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