‘X Factor’ Sponsor Hangs Up

Mobile phone operator Nokia has quit its £5 million a year sponsorship of "The X Factor," leaving the TV talent show looking for a new backer before it starts filming its fourth series.

The company reportedly pulled out because Ofcom, the U.K.’s communications watchdog, criticized the spin-off "The Xtra Factor" show for featuring too many on-air Nokia references.

Other mobile phone companies including Samsung and Carphone Warehouse, which stopped its own sponsorship of the "Big Brother" reality show following a racism row earlier this year, are believed to be in the frame to take over what’s considered to be a prime-time advertising opportunity.

Nokia’s interest in music looks to have switched to the launch of Apple Inc.’s iPhone.

Chief Financial Officer Rick Simonson told a May 14th gathering at the New York Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit that he expects it will boost consumer appetite for pricier mobile phones with features such as music and video.

Many so-called smart phones, which allow users to take photos, watch video, listen to music and surf the Web, retail at more than £200 in the U.K.

Apart from looking for a new sponsor, "The X Factor" is also in need of a new judge.

Dannii Minogue will be joining the panel but the producers are still looking for a fourth one, following the reported sacking of Westlife manager Louis Walsh.