Channel 4 warned about advertising during Royal Ascot

Good Call - but during Royal Ascot? Surely not.

Channel 4 faced strong questioning about its advertising approach during negotiations that have led to the broadcasting company having a monopoly of television coverage on terrestrial channels from next year. Ascot racecourse, whose chief executive Charles Barnett was part of the negotiating team, had particular reservations about a switch to a commercial station.

It isn’t yet clear who will be responsible for putting together the company’s racing coverage, as the contract between Channel 4 and production company Highflyer runs out at the end of this year. The broadcaster is about to start the tender process and hopes to complete it by early summer. Highflyer, who have handled racing on the station since 1984 are sure to bid, but it may well be that with increased investment in the sport Channel 4 look for a markedly different approach.

Whoever wins that contract will have a very clear steer on advertising during Royal Ascot week, as Nick Smith, a spokesperson for the Queen’s course made clear. He said that during the discussions Barnett had made it very clear that the Royal meeting had to be recognised as a special case. “What we wanted to make clear was that Royal Ascot isn’t like the other 51 weeks of the year. It’s a meeting with a unique nature and a special history. What we were talking about was the way the meeting is promoted and the type of advertising. We received assurance from the very top at Channel 4 that they understood what we were talking about and, from that point onwards, we were very happy to continue.”

No doubt Paddy Power’s creative team are working on it right now, but let’s speculate on what will be in, and what will be out. I suppose it will be Moet and Chandon rather than the Foster’s 'Good Call' pair; banking and saving rather than payday loans.

My vote goes to Ascot reminding us of its new dress code in a cartoon where Lord Snooty, not Nick Luck, but The Beano’s the ordinary boy who just happens to be an earl, takes his pals from Ash Can Alley to the races, and we’ll have to see which of them are let in.

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