Sands claims TV industry ‘shy’ of ad-funded shows

Marc Sands, The Guardian’s marketing director, claims broadcasters are shying away from advertiser-funded programming because they are “scared” and want to protect existing revenue streams.

Sands says television companies are “scared of genuine innovation” and would rather take advertisers’ money for spot ads and sponsorship. “They haven’t woken up to the realities in TV,” he said, speaking at Marketing Week’s TV 2006 conference in Rome last month.

The newspaper ran a six-part weekly show, The Guardian Sports Show, on Channel 4 last year ahead of its Berliner format launch, but Sands said it had been unable to tie up further deals.

“I was thrilled with the way it [the programme] went, but I am afraid TV will not embrace this sort of stuff,” he told the conference.

He claimed broadcasters were more interested in protecting existing revenues, and projects failed to go ahead when they found the money was needed elsewhere.

“We would repeat it but I don’t know how. Every time we engage with commercial organisations, they don’t really want to know,” he said, pointing at their “failure to communicate”.

However, Mike Parker, Channel 4’s head of strategic sales and commercial marketing, rebutted suggestions that broadcasters were “running scared”, and talked of the regulatory and “quality” issues that surrounded every ad-funded discussion. “The fact that something is funded by someone else doesn’t make it good TV,” he said.

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