Magazine article Marketing

TV Deal Fires Debate on Editorial Integrity

Magazine article Marketing

TV Deal Fires Debate on Editorial Integrity

Article excerpt

Jimmy Corkhill strolls into the Brookside newsagent and asks for a copy of the Daily Mirror. "Only paper you can trust," he tells the newsagent. Sitting at home, a reader of the paper looks at his Daily Mirror-Brookside gamecard and realises that Jimmy's line of dialogue matches that on his card and has won him [pounds]5000.

Channel 4 is adamant that the above scenario won't happen and programme integrity will remain intact, even after it announced last week the first "interactive" sponsorship deal between Brookside's script and Mirror competitions.

But the Independent Television Commission has already relaxed its rules on sponsorship and opening credits to allow greater interaction between the sponsoring brand and the programme. Tony the Tiger from Kellog's Frosties can already be seen interacting with the logo of LWT's Gladiators in the title "wrap-arounds".

Sponsorship is still an advertising vehicle in its infancy, netting ITV around [pounds]40m last year - which is still only 2% of total advertising revenue. In fact more is spent on sponsorship on commercial radio - [pounds]45m a year.

A programme-maker's gamble?

Whatever its size, the concern is that the line between TV sponsorship and editorial programming is already blurring. Is TV taking a gamble with the integrity of its products by allowing them to be used for promotions and deals?

Recent controversies include B&Q's sponsorship of Meridian TV's DIY programme Doing It Up, the BBC's deal (with the Mirror) for its Big Break programme to be linked with gamecards, and the sponsorship by Lego of Tots TV.

Last year a sponsorship deal between ITV's Peak Practice and the private health insurers PPP was vetoed when the ITC ruled it breached regulations on cross-over between the editorial and the nature of business of the sponsor.

The latest Mirror-Brookside deal, which nets C4 [pounds]1m, involves no on-air plug for the paper. Instead it gets rights to the soap's name and characters for its TV gamecards.

One of the games which will begin this week features characters from the programme with lines of dialogue printed below their pictures. On some of the cards the line will be said by that character during that evening's episode. …

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