Make Poverty History ad to make TV debut

Prime Minister Tony Blair today praised the actions of the media industry in the Make Poverty History campaign, which launches on every TV channel tonight.

For the first time almost every single analogue and digital commercial TV channel will run a “roadblock” featuring the campaign advert.

The black and white ad features a series of well known figures from the world of music, politics, sport and fashion clicking their fingers to indicate the number of children dying around the world every three seconds.

Speaking at a Downing Street event organised by the British Society of Magazine Editors, the PM told Media Week: “It demonstrates that media can be a force for good. In the case of Make Poverty History, it certainly is.”

The unveiling of the ad at just before 8pm tonight is believed to be first time in UK TV history that a single ad has been booked across almost the entire network of mainstream channels.

PHD, which organised an auction in February to raise money for the auction, has booked the ad – created by AMV – across the television network, covering ITV’s three stands, Channel 4, Five, all BSkyB channels, UKTV, Living, MTV and Turner.

Celebrities include the likes of the driving force behind the campaign, Bob Geldof, Bono, Kate Moss, Brad Pitt, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant and George Clooney.

The ad is part of global drive calling for trade justice, debt cancellation and improved aid in the developing world, in a move backed by former South African president Nelson Mandela.

The premier also praised the impact of Channel Four's School Dinners programme with Jamie Oliver for putting the issue of childhood nutrition on the agenda.

He said: “I saw the Jamie Oliver programme myself. The programme threw the whole thing into focus.”

During the session he had little hope to offer the magazine publishing industry over the Office of Fair Trading’s decision to scrap the magazine wholesale distribution arrangements.

Wholesalers currently enjoy local monopolies in exchange for guaranteeing to supply any magazine to any shop in the country, but the OFT has ruled this is anticompetitive, leaving the possibility of parts of the country becoming impossible to get smaller titles to.

But the PM warned there was little he could do. “The OFT is completely independent of government. I do not know a great deal about the ruling. I'm going to have to get a proper steer on it.

“I understand they are doing it on competition grounds but there could be unlooked for consequences.”

By Tim Burrowes and Kevin May

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