Ofcom Lifts Ban on UK TV Telethons

15 December 2006

LONDON: UK media regulator Ofcom is to allow television broadcasters to run "telethon" appeals to raise funds.

The watchdog believes the move will benefit niche, religious and community channels, rather than the bigger commercial broadcasters such as ITV and Channel 4.

The changes result from a consultation earlier this year, leading to a view by Ofcom that rules for TV broadcasters should be brought into line with those for radio.

However, the lifting of the ban will be strictly controlled to prevent exploitation of "vulnerable" viewers, particularly by any US-style TV evangelist fundraising.

Ofcom's restrictions will include . . .

  • A requirement to keep accurate records of amounts received and how the money is spent.

  • Not creating unrealistic expectations of what donations can achieve.

  • And not using appeals for donations as "a way of avoiding rules prohibiting political advertising and sponsorship".
The move, together with recent changes in regulation of channel sponsorship and product placement, is aimed at creating additional revenue streams for broadcasters suffering from falling advertising revenues and tighter regulations on alcohol and junk food advertising.

Data sourced from MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff