Ofcom relaxes rules on channel sponsorship

Media watchdog Ofcom has amended its broadcasting code to enable brands to sponsor commercial television and radio channels for the first time. Previously advertisers could only sponsor individual programmes.

The new rules, however, place restrictions around the extent of the agreements- a measure designed to ensure sponsors’ presence channels is not “unduly prominent”.

These include a ban on broadcasters granting sponsors joint naming rights to channels alongside credits for the channel sponsor also being prevented from appearing in or around programmes that cannot be sponsored.

Ofcom says the “safeguards” are designed to “preserve editorial independence, protect the under-18s and ensure the audience is made fully aware of the sponsorship relationship”.

The change follows a consultation into the future of sponsorship in commercial TV and radio begun earlier this year (MW February 9).

It follows a review of the Broadcasting Code (2004 to 2005), when most respondents agreed that existing restrictions prohibiting channel sponsorship were no longer necessary.

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