X Factor sponsorship renewed by TalkTalk

The sponsorship is a three-year deal considered to be worth £20m.

Apparently upbeat after reporting rising revenues in the first three months of the year, TalkTalk has renewed its sponsorship of the hit ITV talent show, "The X Factor".

The broadband provider and mobile phone operator said it added 42,000 new group broadband customers this quarter, with revenues rising 21.7 per cent to £1.69bn.

TalkTalk split from Carphone Warehouse in March and acquired broadband group Tiscali ten months ago, which has helped boost its profits.

The company has renewed its sponsorship of The X Factor in a three-year deal considered to be worth £20m, which is higher than its previous fees for the talent show that has seen record viewership over the last year.

TalkTalk's commercial director said the partnership has helped it significantly improve brand awareness. The new contract with ITV will include sponsorship of the show, tours and rights to exclusive online videos.

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.