London: Carphone Warehouse Group Plc, Europe’s largest mobile-phone retailer, ended its 3 million-pound (Rs25.6 crores) sponsorship of reality TV programme “Big Brother” after claims of racism and bullying on a recent celebrity edition.
“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,” London-based Carphone Warehouse said on 8 March in an e-mailed statement.
The company suspended its sponsorship of the Channel 4 Television Corp programme in January after Indian film star Shilpa Shetty was seen being racially abused and bullied by other contestants, notably UK reality TV star Jade Goody.
Carphone Warehouse, which has sponsored the show for the past four years, said it would continue to advertise on Channel 4 and in commercial breaks during this year’s “Big Brother”.
The celebrity show caused an international incident, prompting demonstrations in India and a record 38,000 complaints to UK telecommunications regulator Ofcom. Shetty went on to win the show after UK Chancellor Gordon Brown urged the public to back her as symbol of British tolerance.
Contestants, who take part in a series of challenges to win food and privileges, nominate each other for eviction from the house and are voted off one at a time in a public phone ballot. The programme is named after the all-seeing totalitarian ruler in George Orwell’s novel “1984”.