Magazine article Marketing

OPINION: CNBC Sure to Test Ofcom Resolve on UK Broadcasting Impartiality

Magazine article Marketing

OPINION: CNBC Sure to Test Ofcom Resolve on UK Broadcasting Impartiality

Article excerpt

There was stark evidence this week that US and British broadcasters are separated by two regulatory systems, if not actually two languages.

There was mutual misunderstanding of a high order at the UK arm of business broadcaster CNBC when the Independent Television Commission rejected an appeal against its officers on programming sponsorship.

The issue appears to be simple but goes to the heart of future broadcasting regulation in the UK and such matters as US ownership of ITV.

The facts are not in dispute. CNBC saw an ad promoting money being available from a European Union fund to help make objective shows about the euro's introduction.

CNBC, as well as RAI and ZDF, took the money and made a series. By common consent Euro Change was balanced and viewers were told it had been made with the help of European funds but was editorially independent.

Obviously the EU thought such funds did not breach the sponsorship rules in its own directive, 'Television Without Frontiers'. In its appeal, CNBC argued that the ban on sponsorship of news and current affairs programmes was not relevant because the EU was 'a public administration' and not a 'public undertaking', such as a company.

The US broadcaster argues that the old days of spectrum scarcity are over and the ITC just doesn't get it. UK viewers, for instance, can watch as many English-language TV news channels as there are national newspapers. If you don't like BBC News 24 or CNBC, there is always Fox News, Euro News or Bloomberg. …

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