BBC fouls C5 in TV's clash of the day

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The Independent Online
WITH WALL-TO-WALL football on television nowadays, advertisers have to try that little bit harder. Channel 5, though, is perhaps putting in a bit too much effort, and its aggressive strategy has brought nothing but trouble this week.

The company was taking legal advice yesterday over an incident on Tuesday when the BBC presenter Ray Stubbs tore down a Channel 5 hoarding. At the same time, the channel found itself under attack for depicting the footballer David Batty as a transvestite.

The Stubbs affair occurred before Blackburn Rovers' Uefa Cup game in Lyons. The cheeky perimeter advertisement read: "BBC viewers ... Liverpool live on 5 now" - referring to Liverpool's game against the Czech side Kosice. After consulting executives in London, Stubbs and the Match of the Day producer removed the offending item.

The BBC was unrepentant yesterday, blaming Channel 5 for its lack of advertising ethics. "Whichever way you look at it, Channel 5's move was clearly offside," a spokeswoman said.

Maybe not offside, but certainly below the belt, was Channel 5's treatment of David Batty. By way of advertising last night's game in Belgrade, Batty's head was superimposed on the image of a male model in stockings and suspenders with the line "See [Newcastle manager] Ruud Gullit's sexy football".

Batty's agent, Hayden Evans, said of the advertisement: "It stinks." He added: "This was arranged by Newcastle United outside the normal commercial routes. I have represented David since he was 17 and this is the type of cheap advertising we have kept him clear of."

Channel 5, insisted, however, that "Newcastle and David Batty gave their full approval".

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