In a first for British television, BT is to wholly fund a programme
which will be screened in prime-time across the ITV network during
Christmas, and focus on the benefits of communication.
As part of a pounds 200m marketing spend to take its ‘Good to talk’
campaign into new areas, the telecoms giant has funded a one-off
programme called Now We’re Talking, hosted by Philip Schofield.
The Carlton-made programme looks at how better communication can improve
life, with comedy clips and celebrity interviews with Coronation Street
actress Liz Dawn, who plays Vera Duckworth, and comedian Jim Davidson.
Celebrities who have appeared in BT ads, such as Bob Hoskins and Rory
McGrath, will not appear. The programme will be shown on Monday December
30 at 8pm. BT has covered the full cost of production, rather than
getting sponsorship. The cost is understood to run into tens of
thousands of pounds.
ITC regulations stipulate that within advertiser-supplied programming
there can be no promotional reference made to the advertiser. Front
credits and end credits last a maximum of ten seconds, with no ad-break
A Freefone number at the end of Now We’re Talking will encourage viewers
to get a fact sheet and booklets. The information will signpost advice
lines, which BT will set up to show people how to handle different types
BT is also to fund 26 15-minute programme strands within This Morning
between January 6 and July 10, where presenters give tips on
communicating in areas such as infidelity, bereavement and bullying.
Adrian Hosford, BT’s communications director, said: ‘There’s only so
much you can do with advertising. TV programming is probably the most
influential thing there is. We are looking to use below-the-line as much
BT has also created a live Web site for This Morning on which broadcast
debates can be continued.
Hosford said that the programming was a ‘toe in the water’ and if
successful, BT would look at funding more programmes.