Original article on January 5th – ITV has extended its respective contracts to broadcast highlights of both the MotoGP and World Rally Championship, The F1 Broadcasting Blog can confirm, except the latter it appears will also be shown on Channel 5.
Highlights of both series will be broadcast on ITV4. It takes their MotoGP deal into a third year, with this being ITV’s fourth season of covering the World Rally Championship.
An ITV spokesperson told this blog that they had “acquired” both contracts.
Update on January 8th – Well, well, well. ITV Press Office said the above to me on Tuesday. Except Channel 5 have tonight released programme information for the week beginning January 23rd. In it, there is a section entitled “World Rally Championship”, with a note at the bottom saying that Channel 5’s programming will be presented by John Desborough and Kevin Piper. I assume Channel 5’s coverage will be highlights only, but that is not made clear in the release.
What is also now unclear is whether ITV4 will indeed be broadcasting highlights of the World Rally Championship this year. I will chase that up and post as soon as I hear an answer…
Updated on January 11th – I have had an update from both ITV and Channel 5. A Channel 5 spokeswoman told this blog that their World Rally Championship programme “is highlights coverage. It will be on Channel 5.” The spokeswoman added that they were unable to confirm what day, but will be able to update on Wednesday when the final schedules for the Monte Carlo rally week are released. An ITV spokesperson gave a similar answer with regards the final schedules. But for the moment, it certainly appears that both channels are screening highlights of the World Rally Championship this season.
Update on January 15th – Confirmation from Channel 5 through a press release. The release notes that a preview show will begin tomorrow at 13:00 on Spike TV, whilst there will be daily highlights and live coverage of the Power Stage at the Wales Rally GB.
Update on January 19th – I have scoured ITV4’s schedules for next week and cannot find a mention anywhere of the World Rally Championship highlights. I think it is safe to say that they in fact do not have the rights, which is disappointing considering this site was told directly the opposite by ITV’s Press Office two weeks ago. Obviously I’m now somewhat concerned about the MotoGP rights too, so I will be chasing that with ITV as well.
Update on January 30th – ITV have apologised for the earlier error regarding the World Rally Championship rights. A spokesperson told me on Thursday: “We have had the rights to the World Rally Championship Highlights for a few years now, however, Channel 5 have now acquired the rights from this season. I am sorry for any disappointment caused. I have contacted our sports department who have advised me that we are hoping to have the MotoGP Highlights again this year.”
That last line is critical, as it means that ITV have not yet secured MotoGP highlights for this season. Could Channel 5 end up snatching them away from ITV as well?
Update on March 2nd – Highlights of MotoGP are definitely staying with ITV4. The channel has also acquisitioned highlights of the Superbike World Championship.