Residents of Oxford and Cambridge will not be able to listen to the Boat Race on the radio, unless they choose Sky Digital or the internet, after the BBC lost the broadcasting rights to London-based LBC.
The BBC has held the radio rights for nearly 80 years but now they have been snapped up by LBC for an undisclosed sum.
In February ITV bought the television rights for £1.75 million.
Mark Flanagan, managing director of LBC, said: “We want to make the Boat Race accessible, interesting and even more connected to London.
“Through some exciting new approaches we will create a family occasion in which our listeners can participate and enjoy.”
A BBC spokesperson said: “The Boat Race organisers have made their decision based on clear commercial reasoning.
“It is a shame that they haven’t factored in the high-quality coverage that the BBC has provided over the years.
“But we wish the Boat Race every success in the future.”
Richard Tilley, sports editor at the Oxford Times , added: “There are people up here in Oxford who might never have been to the race itself, or know one end of an oar from the other or even like students that much, but they still take a great interest in what happens.
“It is a shame they are not going to be able to listen to it.”
Christopher Rodrigues, chairman of The Boat Race Company, said: “LBC’s plans will mean that the radio coverage of the Boat Race will be entertaining, informative and interactive.
Moreover, for the first time in its illustrious history, the Boat Race has a meaningful opportunity to build on its excellent relationship with London.”
The Boat Race is scheduled for 27 March.
By Sarah Lagan