Airing the Aintree Grand National on the BBC may be considered something of an institution but overall the BBC has just shown a mere 13 days of racing in two years which is largely the reason they have now decided to pull the plus on it.
Reports suggest the BBC will abandon all coverage of the sport next year, 2013, leaving Channel 4 clear to pursue the rights to televise the John Smith’s Grand National and a monopoly on terrestrial channels.
The Formula One was the first to fall in the BBC Sports department with Sky successfully bidding to share the rights to air it and now it seems that with the tightening of the purse strings, gone too is domestic horse racing. With budgetary decisions needing to be made, the BBC wants to hold on to what little it has left of Formula One and the Rugby Six Nations.
Former commentator Sir Peter O’Sullevan was an iconic figure in the BBC’s racing coverage and is angry at the reported relinquishing of the sport by the corporation.
He told the Daily Mail: “I have spent my lifetime lamenting the BBC’s lack of interest in a sport that is woven into the fabric of the nation.
“There are people in their ivory towers at the BBC who have made a serious miscalculation over this decision.”
A spokeswoman for Channel 4 said they were unable to comment further beyond confirming their commitment to racing and that proposals and negotiations were ongoing.