BBC bans sponsors

Broadcaster stiffens policy after breach

The BBC will ban commercial sponsorship for its on-air events after a report found it breached editorial guidelines over a “Sports Personality of the Year” deal with Robinson’s drinks brand Britvic.

The publicly funded broadcaster is not allowed to carry advertising. It can, however, accept sponsorship for events — but not programs.

The BBC Trust, which governs the pubcaster, said the sponsorship had compromised the editorial integrity of the kudocast.

The trust report said: “U.K. audiences expect to receive BBC programs that are free of advertising and wholly impartial. Anything that creates an impression that a program may be sponsored is wrong and contrary to the BBC’s editorial guidelines.”

The BBC Trust report ordered the BBC not to seek another sponsor for the event when the two-year Britvic contract ended.

But the BBC preempted a possible ban by announcing its own measures.

“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,” a spokesman said.

BBC’s commercial rival ITV and RadioCenter, which represents the commercial radio industry, both lodged complaints that were not upheld by the BBC executive. The complainants appealed to the Trust, which upheld the appeals in certain parts.

The BBC said the decision would cost it about £1.5 million ($3 million) and would affect “Sports Personality of the Year,” Radio 3 “New Generation Artists Scheme,” sponsored by Aviva, “Proms in the Park,” sponsored by National Savings & Investments and BBC4’s “World Cinema Award.”

(The Press Assn. contributed to this report.)

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