Media: Lifeline - Broadcast sponsorship

Relaxation of the rules has allowed the business to grow over the past 15 years.

1991: Limited sponsorship links between programmes and advertisers had existed in the UK since the mid-80s, notably Budweiser's deal with Channel 4 and its American Football coverage. But the introduction of more liberal rules leads to a flurry of tie-ups between entertainment programmes and mainstream brands; for instance, Inspector Morse and Beamish, Maigret and Kronenbourg 1664, Rumpole of the Bailey and Croft's port.

1996: Cadbury and its media agency, Carat, strike the biggest deal in UK television sponsorship history when the chocolate brand agrees to pay £10 million a year to sponsor Coronation Street. Its "chocolate claymation" credits, created by Aardman, push to the limits rules that prohibit actual products from being featured in credits. These rules are subsequently relaxed.

1997: Channel 4 signs up Stella Artois to sponsor films. ITV signs up HSBC for drama and Doritos for films. But the Independent Television Commission regulators are reluctant to extend to mainstream TV the liberal guidelines that are starting to apply to multichannel.

2000: Procter & Gamble, the originator of radio soap operas in the US in the 20s, joins the UK sponsorship market in a big way when Daz becomes a sponsor of Emmerdale. The business also grows in sophistication when ITV pioneers a split sponsorship - on-air coverage of Formula One is sponsored by Texaco but the web deal goes to Foster's.

Now: Cadbury's media agency, Starcom, renegotiates a two-year deal with Coronation Street. Once again, brinkmanship had pushed negotiations almost to breaking point. ITV was looking for more money, as sponsorship idents can now be of longer duration.

Fast forward ...

2010: There's now a complete regulatory free-for-all, but broadcast sponsorship has become an almost-forgotten art - with the inexorable rise of personal video recorders, advertisers are expending all of their energies securing product-placement deals, rather than spending money in the ever-shrinking gaps between programmes.