Channel 4 has secured a deal with German car maker Volkswagen to sponsor its sporting output across the whole of the network.
The contract is understood to be worth 3m per year. The initial deal is for a year.
The deal is the first of its kind on British TV and the initiative was first revealed exclusively in Marketing Week (May 22 1997).
The sponsorship will cover some of the channel’s highest-rated programmes, such as Gazzetta Italia, NBA Jam, and Transworld Sport.
Volkswagen has concentrated its recent marketing spend on convincing the public that its cars are not as expensive as they might imagine through advertising.
Its shift into UK sponsorship follows a similar move by its rivals Ford and Vauxhall. It is understood that the sponsorship will begin in the next few weeks and may coincide with the launch of the new Volkswagen Golf.
The car company also has a new model Beetle, which will be launched this year.
Channel 4 was unavailable for comment as Marekting Week went to press.