UK Media Watchdog Proposes Shift in Sponsorship Rules

09 February 2006

UK media regulator Ofcom is mulling a change in rules which would allow sponsorship of entire radio stations and television channels.

The consultation period for changes in the regulations closes in April. The results will be used with the watchdog's research into viewer attitudes and its proposals for other sources of future funding for commercial TV.

Comments Ofcom spokesman Simon Bates: "We're talking about the future funding of programming. Programmes have been funded by the spot ad, which is being challenged by PVRs and audience fragmentation."

However, any changes would be accompanied by restrictions. For example, channels carrying news bulletins could not be sponsored; nor could gambling services sponsor stations aimed at the under-18s.

In addition, the regulator would not allow an existing channel to add the name of a separate sponsor into the service because it believes audiences would "be unsure of which party retains editorial control of the service's content".

Sponsorship of individual TV and radio shows was introduced in Britain more than 15 years ago, but paid product placement is still illegal.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff