Magazine article Marketing

BBC Raises Interest in TV Funding

Magazine article Marketing

BBC Raises Interest in TV Funding

Article excerpt

The row over outside funding of a BBC educational series has set off a debate that will lead to a review of corporation guidelines.

When Marketing broke the news that Private Patients Plan had funded a programme to be broadcast on the BBC, reaction from both sides of the corporate fence was swift.

The BBC denied that the programme, intended for the night-time educational slot BBC Focus, was paid for by PPP.

Yet PPP is adamant that it was approached by a company called Aspenden and asked if it would like to contribute [pounds]40,000 toward the making of a TV programme which would be shown by the BBC. In its announcement of the deal, the company said it was "funding a television programme on long-term care as part of The Adviser series which will be broadcast in autumn on BBC2". What was going on?

The chain of events which translated PPD's [pounds]40,000 into a TV programme is long and complex.

It starts with the Society of Financial Advisers (SOFA), which put together a professional training package. "We devised the initiative and selected Aspenden Education to run it", says John Eden, the society's director. "We put a proposal to the BBC and commissioned a production company to make the programmes."

It was Aspenden which approached several companies, including PPP, and asked them to fund the programmes, which would form part of a training package, including course materials.

SOFA is a non-profit making organisation, and only non-profit making organisations can submit programmes for The Learning Zone. Certainly the BBC's press office believes the programmes were "commissioned and funded by the The Society of Financial Advisors".

Yet financial advisors who want to sign up for the training package pay their [pounds]25 a head to Aspenden, not SOFA. It was an independent production company trading from the same address, Healthcare Productions, which made the programmes, and it was Aspenden which approached companies to fund them.

Aspenden insists that it is "erroneous" to say that PPP had funded a programme. They were invited to contribute to a pool, it says, from which the programmes were funded. It's a fine distinction.

Among those approached was Abbey National, which bought into the idea. A programme on supervision in the workplace was duly made and broadcast in February, in which Abbey National was the only provider featured, as well as being thanked in the credits. …

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