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Why does BBC's Watchdog promote Apple iMacs?

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Have you ever wondered why the BBC's consumer champion Watchdog happily promotes Apple's iMac machines?

Probably not. It's a familiar sight on TV and in films for set designers to use Apple products as a short hand for good taste, good design and media luvvies at work.

But if there's one programme which shouldn't align itself to any manufacturer or product it's Watchdog. And if there's one computer that is identifiable without showing any brand or logo it's the iMac.

The Reg reckons that by the BBC putting Apple's products on prominent display on BBC1 at 7pm GMT on a Thursday evening on its flagship consumer affairs programme it is endorsing the kit.

Not so, says a Watchdog spokesman. "The set adheres to BBC guidelines. The fact that a product is recognisable doesn't mean that we endorse it. We never use logos."

To prove its case Watchdog says it went with Apple because: "They were the only people who could provide us with purple and orange machines. They go with what the set designer devised."

Watchdog's argument is that they went with the only supplier available. Favouritism didn't come into it. We say that as Apple is the only place you can go for orange and purple computers, especially as Apple is going to sue the ass of anyone trying to copy its look, everyone knows Watchdog is showing off iMacs.

Another dubious line of defence was that the iMacs "give the set a realistic office feel". If you're a modern urbanist working in Soho that might be the case, but it doesn't look like any office I've been in.

Here's what the BBC's guidelines say: "BBC programmes must never give the impression that they are endorsing or promoting any product, service or company. References to all products and services should be editorially justifiable and there should be no element of plugging."

Elsewhere the rules say: "In drama, comedy and entertainment, programme producers have to consider whether there is a really strong editorial justification for using branded products. If products are used, as props, setdressing or elsewhere in drama or entertainment they must be varied as much as possible to ensure that there is no suggestion of a particular brand being promoted."

Best not to make too much of a fuss over this though, and demand vanilla PCs on the telly. As the Watchdog spokesman said: "I'm sure our licence payers wouldn't be happy if we swapped them [iMacs] for something else." ®

Related links

BBC product guidelines
BBC: Products used as props

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