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
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.