MEDIA: BBC backs digital with celebrity ad campaign

The BBC is to use celebrities including Jerry Hall and Gary Lineker to star alongside ordinary people in the next stage of the BBC's digital TV campaign, as controversy surrounds its decision to move its channels to a new satellite.

Phase two of 'The changing face of TV' campaign, by dfgw, moves away from the public service announcement style of the last ad - which promoted digital TV generally - to support the BBC's eight digital TV channels, including the recently launched BBC Three.

The campaign features three 60-second TV trails. In one, a father is hiding behind his newspaper while being harangued by his wife and children about why he should agree to get digital television.

One of them pulls off their face to reveal BBC news anchor George Alagiah, reminding him how much he enjoys news, and that digital TV would allow him to watch BBC News 24. Meanwhile, his wife becomes Jerry Hall, but just as he starts to embrace her, she morphs into Gary Lineker.

Another execution shows two old ladies at a bus stop discussing the weather.

One is much better informed than her friend because she has access to BBC News 24.

The dialogue focuses on the three ways of obtaining digital TV and gives a telephone number and web address for viewers to find out further information.

The campaign will be supported on radio and online as well as via the BBC's 1000 poster sites.

The ads break next Thursday and follow the BBC's decision to broadcast its services unencrypted on the Astra 2D satellite. Since launching its services on Sky in 1998, the BBC has paid Sky £17m a year to encrypt its services to ensure tight targeting of programmes in the UK.

This cost was set to increase to £85m over the next five years. The BBC has said it plans to use the money saved on making all its regional services available on satellite for the first time.

But analysts have said that the Astra 2D satellite is not as focused as the BBC claims and could allow viewers in other countries to watch the BBC's channels for free.

This could cause problems with the BBC's sports rights, such as its deal with the Scottish Premier League, which requires certain games to be shown in Scotland only.

In addition, the decision could threaten the position of BBC channels on Sky's electronic programme guide, which was negotiated at the same time as the original agreement.

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