BBC abandons programme sponsorship

The BBC said on Monday that it would abandon programme sponsorship after its governing body reproached the broadcaster for a deal associating Britvic’s Robinson’s drinks brand with the Sports Personality of the Year show last year.

The programme attracted official complaints from ITV and the Radio Centre, which represents the commercial radio industry, to the BBC Trust, the body which governs the publicly funded broadcaster.

The Trust issued its findings earlier, saying that there should be no repeat of the Robinson’s sponsorship, which it decided had damaged the editorial integrity of the show.

“The Trust has concluded that several of the editorial guidelines were breached and the editorial integrity of the BBC compromised by giving the impression to licence fee payers via Sports Personality of the Year that part of a BBC service had been sponsored,” the Trust said.

It added: “UK audiences expect to receive BBC programmes that are free of advertising and wholly impartial. Anything that creates an impression that a programme may be sponsored is wrong and contrary to the BBC’s editorial guidelines.”

But the BBC pre-empted the partial ban called for by the Trust. It issued a statement saying: “The complaints made by ITV and the Radio Centre prompted the management to consider the appropriateness of commercial sponsorship of BBC on-air events in relation to changing market conditions.

“In the context of Monday’s findings, the management of the BBC has reviewed its sponsorship policy and has concluded that it should no longer accept sponsorship from commercial bodies for any on-air BBC event.”

The BBC said the decision would cost it about £1.5m ($3m) and would affect the Sports Personality of the Year, Radio 3 New Generation Artists Scheme, sponsored by Aviva, Proms in the Park, sponsored by National Savings & Investments, and BBC Four’s World Cinema Award.

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