STV has been rapped by broadcasting regulators, Ofcom, over its sponsorship of a business briefing that used to appear on its early evening news programme.
However, it's a relatively gentle telling-off for the broadcaster, which argued that its briefing was similar to its sports news round-up which was accompanied by sponsorship considered acceptable by Ofcom.
The briefing – now no longer a feature of the programme, as of August 24 – was accompanied by sponsorship from STV's own jobs website.
Says Ofcom: “Other information that traditionally accompanies news, such as sports and weather reports, may be sponsored provided this is separated from the news. There is no absolute prohibition on the sponsorship of business features. Reports consisting of factual information, such as stock prices, may be sponsored because it is unlikely that the sponsorship will be seen to compromise the accuracy and impartiality of the information provided. However, sponsorship of reports that contain analysis or opinion on business news is incompatible with the requirements of [our] Rule 9.1.”
And it is Ofcom's view that the briefing included analysis.
Apart from the incident being recorded by Ofcom – and perhaps taken into consideration in any future case – no further action is being taken against STV.
Said a STV spokesperson: “STV welcomes Ofcom’s clarification regarding the sponsorship of specialist reports, as we believe the previous guidelines were unclear on this matter. We plan to re-introduce our business briefings in future and the sponsorship around these reports will reflect the clearer guidance that Ofcom has now provided.”