But it did mark the end of an era — of terrestrial television’s 35-year stranglehold of Formula One.
It was in 1976 that the BBC first started showing every race of the season live. Until then, its output had been restricted to the odd marquee race.
But the introduction of blanket coverage transformed the public’s relationship with the sport. This was the golden age. Formula One became a staple of our Sunday afternoons, the likes of James Hunt, Gilles Villeneuve and Murray Walker infiltrating our living rooms every fortnight and becoming household names in the process.
From next season, though, the BBC will share its coverage with Sky Sports, who will show half the races exclusively live on a dedicated channel. Sky will clearly plough considerable resources into a sport it has largely ignored thus far — you can guarantee, for example, that Sky Sports News will suddenly deem it a good deal more newsworthy than it used to — but by and large, it feels like another step backwards.
Given that Sky in the UK is largely a News Ltd organisation and that they also own a considerable chunk of Foxtel, what's to stop F1 coverage going to pay TV in Australia?
Given that the only motorsports events in Australia which are covered by the Anti-Siphoning laws are the Australian Moto GP, Bathurst 1000 and the Australian Formula One GP, what's to stop Foxtel from simply buying the lot and sticking it on Pay TV?
Channel 10 has already done its level best to insult people who don't have HD by showing races up to three hours late because of this policy successfully managed to show ZERO races live on standard definition television. Not even the Brazilian GP which started at stupid o'clock Australian time was shown live and on standard definition the telecast started after 25 laps had been completed (I was watching live timing).
Channel 10 has already had a poor record of showing F1 (see Horse 1187 and 1191 for further details) so I suppose they have been preparing us for this in a roundabout way.
If it does go to Foxtel then my interest will probably become more academic and I'll be forced to read results in much the same way I do English Premier League Football because I'm not a subscriber.
The CEO of Ten Network Holdings Limited is none other than Lachlan Murdoch. The TenSport Website merely says that they will be live streaming in 2012 but I note that the drop down menus for Formula One have already been removed. I wonder what that says.
I can guess:
The lineup on ONE HD and Channel 10 will be thus:
18 March - Australian GP - ONE HD
The rest of the season... Foxtel.