ITC plans to relax rules on TV sponsorship

The Independent Television Commission plans to allow programme sponsors to show their product or service and use voiceovers for the first time, in a radical overhaul of its sponsorship code.

The Independent Television Commission plans to allow programme

sponsors to show their product or service and use voiceovers for the

first time, in a radical overhaul of its sponsorship code.



The proposed changes take place as the ITC demonstrates its policy of

being a light-touch regulator, as the TV market changes rapidly.



The ITC stipulates that while it is considering allowing advertisers to

show their products visually, they must ensure sponsorship credits are

differentiated clearly from spot advertising and make a clear link

between the sponsor and the programme. Sponsors such as Cadbury’s, which

sponsors ITV’s Coronation Street, will not be allowed to use any form of

price or special promotions offer in their sponsorship voiceovers.



Martin Hart, the head of sponsorship at the ITC, commented: ’ITC policy

on sponsorship regulation has always erred on the side of caution and to

date sponsorship has been an area where regulatory intervention has not

been widely required. In this environment of more flexible regulation it

is essential that we consider a simpler approach.’



The ISBA, the advertiser trade body, welcomed the ITC’s proposal. Bob

Wootton, the ISBA’s director of media services, said: ’Any propositions

to simplify this code will be welcome. This code is known to be

particularly unfathomable and complex, as well as subject to subjective

interpretation, which has led to some sponsorships faltering.’



Wootton added that the revised code ’could pave the way for credits to

become more dynamic’.



The ITC anticipates that the revisions will be in place by the

autumn.



The last revision of the the sponsorship code was in autumn 1998 when

masthead programming was extended to terrestrial TV. In spring 1997 the

ITC allowed the visual use of straplines on sponsorship credits.