Tuesday, December 02, 2003

TOP OF THE FIZZY POPS: One of the most curious aspects over the hoo-hah over the sponsorship of the "official" chart by Coca-Cola is the way that some critics, like EMAP's Mark Storey, seem to think there's something new about the chart being sponsored - there isn't, of course, it's just the previous sponsor Worldpop threw its money away on a sponsorship nobody knew of. But it has to be the novelty that's upset EMAP rather than the sugar-sweet nature of the sponsor - because it's only a few months since EMAP's stations ceased carrying the, um, Pepsi Chart.

So, should the BBC be letting the nation's all-important list of best (feebly) selling singles be whored out to the fizzy pop maker? Sure, the BBC are in a tricky position here - they don't make the chart, so don't have a direct input into what happens on the headed notepaper, and, as they fairly point out, they mention sponsorship deals in the case of, say, the Coca-Cola Cup or the Barclaycard Premiership. On the other hand, the BBC is one of the biggest paymasters of the Chart Company, and it's pretty apparent that the Officialness of the Official chart resides not in the fact it appears in a pull-out in the middle of Music Week, but in its use by the BBC. If the BBC elected not to use the Chart With Added Sugar, but to go elsewhere for its listing (hell, we'd even make up a list of bestselling singles for you, if you'd like) it's unlikely Coke would be topping up the Chart Company's coffers to the tune of a million quid. (Perhaps what's really the big pisser about this is that Radio One and Top of the Pops are going to be used as a billboard, but the BBC don't get a silver dollar of the cash). The BBC don't currently underwrite the costs of, say, the Lancia Classic and then find themselves having to bend to the whims of a sponsor as well, and really, the Corporation should have used that moral authority to say "you want a sponsor? Fine, they can pay for the entire chart, then."

Of course, there's a connected argument about if Coca-Cola is a fit sponsor for anything that kids are interested in at all - it might encourage them to drink pop, which they otherwise wouldn't do - but that's perhaps for another time.


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