Media regulator Ofcom has announced that it will be allowing advertisers to sponsor entire TV and radio channels for the first time.

For the past fifteen years, regulators have only allowed TV and radio channels to sponsor particular shows.

Ofcom now intends to amend the broadcasting code to expand sponsorship opportunities – subject to specific safeguards, such as preserving editorial independence and protecting under-18s.

The amendment follows a wide-ranging consultation by Ofcom in February on how channel sponsorship might be introduced.

Current programme sponsorship restrictions include news and current affairs shows and certain products, such as alcohol or gambling brands, sponsoring children’s programming.

Ofcom’s consultation looked at whether it would be appropriate to allow channels that broadcast some of these types of programmes to be sponsored at all.

The regulator’s amendments to the code will allow the sponsorship of any channel, as long as that channel only shows a limited amount of programmes where sponsorship restrictions already apply.

The extending of sponsorship opportunities will be welcomed by broadcasters, who are set to lose advertising revenue when Ofcom announces the extent of the restrictions on junk food advertising next month.

Specific safeguards will be put in place by Ofcom to preserve editorial integrity and protect children.

For example, 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.