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BBC under fire for 'plugging the BlackBerry'

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    Posted: 13 May 2011 at 11:48

BBC under fire for 'plugging the BlackBerry' on The Apprentice

By Paul Revoir

Last updated at 9:48 AM on 13th May 2011

The BBC was involved in a product placement row last night after viewers criticised the amount of close-up shots of BlackBerry phones during The Apprentice.

Fans of the BBC1 business reality series were surprised at lingering shots of the smartphones during the latest episode on Wednesday.

In it, the candidates – who are competing for a £250,000 investment – were given two days by Lord Sugar to design a new mobile phone application and promote it globally.


Criticism: Viewers of The Apprentice questioned why contestants had to develop an app for the smaller BlackBerry market rather than the iPhone

They were divided into two teams, all-men and all-women, and told that the team to achieve the most downloads within 24 hours would win the task.

Scenes about 20 minutes into the episode showed the teams huddling round a BlackBerry as they admired the apps they had designed.

Mobile phone applications, known as apps, are small pieces of software which are sold online and offer smartphone users extra – and often novelty – functions, such as magnifying glasses or drinks and calorie counters.

The men were shown loading their app – a phrasebook guide of regional insults called Slangatang – on to a black model of the phone, which was shown in close-up. 


The all-women team, Venture, put together their random noise Ampi App

The women were seen screaming with excitement as they gathered around a white BlackBerry handset to look at their own app, a set of random noises called Ampi App.

Viewers took to Twitter to express their surprise at the way the BBC handled the coverage, saying even if it was not product placement, it looked like it was.

One wrote: ‘BlackBerry product placement anyone?’


Another said: ‘Is The Apprentice sponsored by BlackBerry?’ 

One viewer added: ‘I thought the BBC couldn’t do product placement? BlackBerry to the max?’

Other viewers questioned why the contestants had been asked to develop apps for the smaller BlackBerry market rather than for the iPhone.


While commercial broadcasters are allowed to use product placement, it is still banned on the BBC.

One of its editorial guidelines says the BBC must ‘not linger on brand names or logos’.

The BBC said there was no deal with BlackBerry to feature its goods and pointed out it would have been difficult to have filmed the task without featuring handsets on which apps are used.

Part of the guidelines says: ‘We need to be able to reflect the real world and this will involve referring to commercial products, organisations and services in our output.

‘However we must avoid any undue prominence which gives the impression that we are promoting or endorsing products, organisations or services.’

Lord Sugar is a known fan of BlackBerry devices. In an interview in 2009, he revealed: ‘The only time I do switch off the BlackBerry is before I go to sleep.’ And in an online review of a new model of the device he wrote: ‘It’s hired.’

The BBC said Lord Sugar had nothing to do with the decision to use the phones on the show.

A spokesman added: ‘The task was to develop a mobile phone application so the use of phone brands was necessary to demonstrate the product and was therefore editorially justified.

‘A number of different types of mobile devices were used within the programme and this was in line with the BBC’s editorial guidelines.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1386511/The-Apprentice-2011-plugging-Blackberry.html#ixzz1MEDb3uQ0
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