Wilkinson Sword funds sports show

Wilkinson Sword has signed a deal to supply an advertiser-funded sports series called Pirate TV that will be produced by ITV company Meridian.

The 13 half hour shows will focus on the explosion of interest in extreme sports such as sky diving, rollerblading, and snowboarding.

Wilkinson Sword will fund the shows, which will have Wilkinson Sword break bumpers. The deal was brokered by Universal Sports Marketing.

The first show goes on air in November and will take the late-night slot after midnight. Wilkinson Sword plans to sell the series to foreign markets after it has been screened on ITV.

The move follows close on the heels of a deal by money transfer company Western Union, which supplied an advertiser-funded football news series, called World Football (MW March 5) for ITV.

The ITV network is understood to be receptive to the idea of advertiser-funded shows, but only if they are of the highest standard.

In the past, advertiser-supplied programming has been criticised for its poor quality. This criticism included BT’s Look Who’s Talking which was a look at “communication cock-ups” hosted by Philip Schofield. There have also been embarrassing gaffes when programme suppliers have tried to influence editorial, such as the Heineken executive who complained that there were too many black people in the audience of Hotel Babylon, supplied for screening on Channel 4.

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