ITC moots ‘lighter’ sponsor rules

The Independent Television Commission (ITC) is planning to relax its tough rules on programme sponsorship as part of a move towards a “lighter” regulatory touch.

The ITC believes its complex set of regulations could be discouraging companies from taking up sponsorship opportunities.

And it wants to cut down on the amount of pre-transmission advice it gives to programme sponsors.

In a consultation document released this week, the ITC recommends lifting the ban on visual representations of a sponsor’s product or service, and the removal of restrictions on the use of straplines.

However, sponsor credits would still be required to make a clear link between the sponsor and programme, and they will not be allowed to resemble spot advertising.

The proposed changes are part of an ongoing review of ITC codes, which have involved the regulator adopting lighter interactive TV rules.

The current rules date to 1990, when sponsorship was first allowed on terrestrial TV.

ITC head of sponsorship Martin Hart says: “The ITC policy on sponsorship regulation has always erred on the side of caution and to date sponsorship has been an area where intervention has not been widely required. In this environment of more flexible regulation it is essential that we consider a simpler approach.”

Among the companies to fall foul of the current regulations is Cadbury, sponsor of Coronation Street, which was last year forced to change credit bumpers after featuring logos for Crunchie and Flake.

Interested parties have until May 26 to comment on the ITC proposals, which will then form the basis of new codes.

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