Firm ends Big Brother deal

2007-03-08 19:26
London - Carphone Warhouse Group said on Thursday it had ended its £3m per year sponsorship deal with a British television reality show after a race row.

The British mobile phone communications retailer suspended its backing for Channel 4 television's "Big Brother" in January after three contestants in the celebrity version allegedly bullied Indian actress Shilpa Shetty.

The firm said on Thursday: "We constantly review our sponsorship relationships and feel that, having suspended the sponsorship during this year's 'Celebrity Big Brother', now is a good time to look at that partnership again.

"We have concluded that the huge publicity around the show and our involvement within that means that now is the time for us to look for an alternative."

Carphone Warehouse has sponsored the reality show and its celebrity spin-off since 2003.

The show involves locking contestants in a specially-built house for weeks on end and tracking their every move and word on camera. Viewers then take part in a phone vote each week to decide who stays in and who is evicted.

This year's "Celebrity Big Brother" was marred by allegations of racist bullying, after a former pop singer, ex-Miss Great Britain and a winner of the civilian version of the show rounded on Bollywood star Shetty.

Their treatment of the 31-year-old actress, who eventually won the competition, sparked outrage, particularly in India, and threatened to strain Anglo-Indian relations to the extent that both governments got involved.

Amid claims the show had exposed thinly-veiled racist attitudes within Britain, Channel 4 was forced to deny that it failed to step in because the row boosted ratings on what many saw as an increasingly tired format.

Following Thursday's announcement, the broadcaster said its relationship with Carphone Warehouse had been "amicable and mutually beneficial" but was now in talks with a number of "high-profile brands" as a replacement.

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