I'm sure C4 used to show Silverstone AND the finale live?
Sky used to permit them to show 8 races live I think. In the end it's all down to Sky, who bought the rights to live F1 in the UK and who can decide to "offer" C4 (or other bidders) whatever crumbs they deign to sweep off their very large table.
The problem was that Bernie/CVC took the huge offer from Sky. All parties made that offer without thinking of the future. CVC wanted out (hence selling to Liberty). Bernie is very old and has more money than he could ever possibly spend. Sky don't care about the sport, they just want to make money from the schmucks who will pay for their subscriptions. There was a poster above who pointed out, correctly, that if everyone in the UK simply decided not to buy the Sky F1 subscription, they'd have been forced to do something different. Something better for us fans.
It's been a pay-tv sport in my country for years now with brief forays into FTA, which drastically weakened the product.
Not sure why people expect to see professional sport for free.
Because, in the UK and I think throughout Europe, paying for professional sports on TV is actually quite a new thing. Anyone who is much over the age of 20 or so will remember free professional, elite sports. For those of us approaching middle age we had decades of it. And of the *highest* production values available at the time. Gods, the F1 offered by the BBC and even ITV a decade or more ago was better than the crap show Sky is pushing. The product was strengthened by professional teams who didn't have to push their employer's subscription model so they were able to be themselves, be fairly impartial, not "big up" the rivalries of other childish nonsense.
We shall have to see what happens once this current contract with Sky finishes. Way back in the ancient mists of time when not every race was even shown live....there would often be last minute deals to broadcast late season races live if a driver from a specific country was in the title hunt.
Should Abu-Dhabi be live on FTA British TV? Yes, of course. So should every race. Will it? Probably not. I don't see Sky being that generous. They've got sufficient subscribers to make their money back, and even I don't expect them to accept making a loss. They bid, they naturally want to make all that money back.