LONDON: British communications regulator Ofcom is to amend its Broadcasting Code to allow the sponsorship of commercial television channels and radio stations, it announced Wednesday.

Although sponsorship of commercial TV and radio programmes has been permitted for the past fifteen years , the practice has not been extended to TV channels and radio stations as entities. Until now.

The relaxation is subject to specific safeguards intended to preserve editorial independence, protect the under-18s and ensure that audiences are fully aware of the sponsorship relationship.

However, the amended code will still ban sponsorship by specific products of specific channels/stations. Alcohol brands, for example will not be permitted to sponsor children's channels; nor could gambling companies sponsor youth-oriented stations.

Specific safeguards will be put in place to preserve editorial integrity and protect children, among them . . .

  • Viewers must be made aware of the sponsorship arrangement and the sponsor's credits must be separated from all other editorial and advertising content on the channel;

  • Credits for the channel sponsor must not appear in or around programmes that cannot be sponsored and credits should not suggest that these programmes are included in the sponsorship arrangement;

  • The sponsor's presence on the channel should not be unduly prominent; and

  • Broadcasters will be unable to brand a channel in its sponsor's name.
Ofcom tempers these strictures with a dash of free enterprise rah-rah, proclaiming that the new deal "represents a new opportunity for broadcasters".

To ensure transparency, editorial independence and appropriate audience protection, the regulator has published guidance for broadcasters to be viewed alongside the liberalised Code.

The Ofcom guidance can be downloaded by clicking here.

Data sourced from Ofcom (UK); additional content by WARC staff