BBC blocks Jeremy Clarkson satnav deal
Thursday 13 October 2011
A deal to make Top Gear satnavs voiced by Jeremy Clarkson has crashed - after BBC bosses said it breached editorial guidelines.
Around 54,000 devices had already been made, and many of them delivered to shops, before the blunder became apparent.
Executives have decided the deal with TomTom ran against editorial policy which prevents the show's presenters endorsing motoring products.
The satnavs will still be sold but BBC Worldwide - the corporation's commercial arm, which struck the deal - will no longer make any profit from the product.
Its proceeds will now be given to Children In Need, removing BBC Worldwide's commercial interest to get round the problem.
No more of the Top Gear devices will be made, and a plan to allow existing TomTom owners to download the voice to update their models has now been dropped.
The TomTom Go Live Top Gear edition was being rush-released for the Christmas market and was expected to be a huge hit among fans of the BBC2 show.
But senior BBC figures felt it breached a rule which says presenters "must take particular care not to endorse any product or service which could be covered in the programmes on which they work".
A BBC Worldwide spokesman said "launch plans were too advanced to prevent the physical product going on sale in retail outlets" by the time the problem was identified.
"In order to avoid any perception of a conflict of interest in the minds of viewers, BBC Worldwide and TomTom have agreed that all monies that would have been due to BBC Worldwide will be paid to BBC Children in Need, together with an additional charitable donation by TomTom."
A source said the costs in terms of compensation to TomTom incurred by BBC Worldwide had been "negligible". It is understood the electronics firm will talk to Worldwide about further voice deals.
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