Ofcom warms to branding of TV and radio channels

Brands will be able to sponsor commercial television channels and radio services under proposals drawn up by Ofcom this week.

Currently advertisers can only sponsor programmes, but under the new proposals certain channels could be covered by all-encompassing sponsorship packages.

The media regulator has mooted its views ahead of a consultation into the future of sponsorship in commercial TV and radio. It follows Ofcom’s review of the Broadcasting Code in 2004/05, when most respondents agreed that existing restrictions prohibiting channel sponsorship were no longer necessary.

However, TV channels carrying news or current affairs programmes, and radio stations carrying news, would be barred from courting channel sponsorship. Organisations currently prevented from sponsoring programmes – such as tobacco companies – would remain banned under any new rules.

Other restrictions would include alcohol brands sponsoring channels carrying children’s programmes, and betting and gaming companies branding channels with content aimed at under-18s.

Neither the sponsor nor its products or services would be given undue prominence. The consultation runs until April.

Ofcom has also published research into viewer attitudes towards the future funding of TV. The research, commissioned by Ofcom from Human Capital, is to look at the role of product placement, channel sponsorship and appeals for donations as potential revenue streams for commercial broadcasting.

A consultation looking at product placement has already begun, while one concerning appeals for donations is expected soon. At present, appeals for donations are permitted on radio, but it is thought that Ofcom is considering relaxing the rules that ban its use on TV.

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