TalkTalk signs up as Big Brother's sponsor

TalkTalk, the fixed-line phone service from Carphone Warehouse, is sponsoring this year's series of Big Brother on Channel 4.

The deal, negotiated by the media independent Matters Media, is one of the biggest on UK television and includes coverage on E4, the Big Brother website and the interactive TV service.

Voting is a big revenue generator for the show's maker, Endemol, Channel 4 and its sponsor. Last year, it recorded more than 12.8 million votes via text messaging, fixed phone lines, mobiles, online and interactive TV.

TalkTalk replaces O2, which announced that it was ending its three-year association with the reality show in February. Southern Comfort sponsored the first series.

The deal is Carphone Warehouse's first foray into TV sponsorship and is designed to drive awareness that TalkTalk customers can talk to each other for free.

Separate pitches are underway to appoint the creative agency to create the sponsorship idents - 4Creative, the in-house Channel 4 creative resource, is among those pitching.

Big Brother attracted an average audience of 4.5 million viewers for the last series, culminating in 6.6 million for the final show. However, it also attracted criticism because of a perceived lack of activity from the contestants. To counter this, Channel 4 intends to make this year's show harder on the contestants. It begins at the end of May.

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