Magazine article Marketing

To Trust or Not to Trust ITC: Where Sponsors Play God Is a Broadcaster's Worst Nightmare

Magazine article Marketing

To Trust or Not to Trust ITC: Where Sponsors Play God Is a Broadcaster's Worst Nightmare

Article excerpt

To trust or not to trust ITC

"Bullshit". That is Michael Grade's blunt and characteristic verdict on the draft code on sponsorship proposed by the shadow Radio Authority.

The Channel 4 chief executive fears the shadow Independent Television Commission (ITC) may slap the same sponsorship guidelines on television.

Although a draft code on TV sponsorship is not expected for some weeks, the radio proposals give an indication of what to expect. In a future described as "terrifying" by Grade, all programmes apart from news can be sponsored.

The guidelines also allow advertisers to give "advice on, or ideas for, a programme's content or presentation". It even allows advertisers to produce programmes for broadcasters. However, a category that includes current affairs is barred to advertisers, and an overall caveat insists that radio broadcasters maintain editorial independence from advertisers and sponsors.

Speaking this week at a Guardian-sponsored debate on broadcasting sponsorship, Grade insisted that he is not against sponsorship. But conceding a formal element of advertiser influence in programme making is a Rubicon that Grade is not prepared to cross.

"We have to preserve the line and keep broadcasting in the hands of broadcasters," he says. …

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