Don Foster MP

Don Foster MP - 86/268 - Bath's #1 Supporter

BBC bosses face grilling from MPs over controversial Formula One rights' sharing deal

September 6, 2023 by admin in News

BBC Director General Mark Thompson faces a grilling from furious MPs demanding to know the truth behind the corporation’s controversial Formula 1 rights’ deal.

Don Foster, Lib Dem spokesman for Culture, Media and Sport, has written to the BBC chief asking for answers about their tie-up with Sky Sports, which will deprive many fans from seeing all the races.

In a letter seen by the Mirror, Mr Foster said: “The least fans deserve is a clear account of what happened.”

The new deal, which comes into force next season, will see Sky Sports, which viewers have to pay for, broadcast all of the races live, while the BBC will show only half of the races simultaneously.

You can read the full article here

Don Foster secures DEFRA commitment to look again at urban gull research

September 6, 2023 by admin in News

Following a bilateral meeting Don Foster MP has secured a commitment from DEFRA Minister Richard Benyon MP to look again at research proposals to tackle urban gulls. The Minister will seek advice from the Chief Scientific Officer before making a decision.

Don Foster has for over three years been trying to get the government to take seriously the problems created in Bath and elsewhere by urban gulls. Other methods such as spikes, netting and birds of prey have shown to be ineffective at controlling gull numbers.

Commenting Don Foster said, “It’s clear that current methods aren’t working. We need proper research to identify why the gulls are so persistent so we can then devise ways of tackling them.

“Recently a bid for such research by Bristol University was rejected. Now the Minister has acknowledged that this is a serious problem and of considerable public concern in some places. I am delighted he has agreed to look again at research proposals.

Questioned about the cost implications of such research in the current financial climate, Don Foster suggested that local councils whose populations are affected by these problems may be willing to contribute a small amount each to the cost.

He commented, “Some councils are spending £100,000s each year to no avail to tackle the problem. Just a few thousand pounds on research to find methods that work would be a good investment.”

The Minister has also agreed to discuss the problem with the Environment Agency work to stop landfill sites being the main feeding grounds for many urban gulls.

“Until now the government seemed deaf to the concerns of so many people. At least the Minister is willing to listen to the arguments. It’s too early to say whether or not he will do the right thing and ensure this research is undertaken.”


Don's Letter to Bernie Ecclestone on the Formula 1 broadcasting issue

September 2, 2023 by admin in News

Bernie Ecclestone

Formula One Management Ltd

6 Princes Gate




31 August 2023

Dear Bernie,

I am writing about the recent controversy over the BBC losing exclusive coverage of Formula 1. I do not believe this result promotes the best interest of license fee payers and F1 fans. I believe the best result would have been for the rights to remain with a free to air broadcaster, even if this was not the BBC.

In particular I am concerned about the apparently divergent views of FOM and the BBC about the sequence of events. You have said that keeping F1 on free to air was a major priority:

We want Formula One to stay free to viewers […] That is 100% (quoted by The Times, 20 June).

If they [Channel 4] had said they wanted to sign a contract today to start broadcasting for £45m a year, then we would have probably done it (quoted by The Mirror, 19 August).

Despite this, Sky ended up with much of the broadcasting rights. In explaining this, you have said that the BBC “held all the cards”. You are reported as saying that the BBC “got to grips with Sky themselves. I spoke with ITV too, and came up with the same problem as Channel 4 had. We had a contract with the BBC which didn’t run out until 2014.” You also said, “My hands were tied”. By your account, the rights ended up with Sky and the BBC because “[T]he BBC brought Sky to us with the idea of a joint contract […] It was not us who made that decision.”

I highlight this point because it directly contradicts the BBC’s own account of what happened. Neil Land, Chief Adviser and Business Manager at BBC Sport, states that:

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of FOM to decide which broadcasters cover the sport. FOM must decide what is in the best interests of the sport, its employees, manufacturers, sponsors and viewers - when choosing its broadcast partners. On this occasion, FOM decided that a broadcast partnership between the BBC and Sky was in the best interests of the sport.

I am alarmed that there is such a gulf between your stories. This deal has led to disappointment and anger among F1 fans and now they have to sift through completely contradictory accounts of who decided what. The least fans deserve is a clear explanation of what has happened. I urge you to give it.

I am not complaining about the realities of the BBC, BSkyB and FOM having their own interests. Nor do I doubt that those involved in this arrangement worked hard to balance their competing aims. But I am deeply concerned at the claim that the BBC facilitated this result, and believe the parties in these negotiations must clarify the glaring discrepancies in their accounts of what happened. More generally, I am disappointed that F1 fans in the UK did not have a loud voice speaking up for their interests. I welcome the steps you have taken to explain what has happened but I hope you will be willing to go further. I have also written to Mark Thompson to put these points to him.

Many thanks and kind regards,

Don Foster MP