TV channel, stv, has been rapped by broadcasting regulators, Ofcom, after one of its newsreaders promoted a website run by its parent company, SMG.
As reported yesterday in a couple of media outlets, during Scotland Today on August 7, last year, a newsreader said: “When it comes to money choices, most of us would welcome the right advice. A new SMG website, Peopleschampion.com, has been set up to do just that. It’s offering extensive consumer advice and Vicky Lee’s been having a look.”
Close-up shots of the website, including its address and logo, were then displayed with a voiceover from the reporter: “Peopleschampion.com is about finding you the best deal and helping you save money within four clicks of the mouse, so when it goes live in the next few weeks, you’ll be able to compare more than 8500 mortgages, the best deals in pet and medical insurance and search for bargain flights…”
A viewer complained that the item was, in effect, an advertisement for the website.
In response, stv said that, at the time of broadcast, Peopleschampion.com was not an active service, nor had any date been set for its launch. The item was considered to be editorially justified on the basis of its widely acknowledged business interest in Scotland.
Ofcom said that “one of the fundamental principles of European broadcasting regulation is that
advertising and programming (that is editorial content) must be kept separate”.
It said that stv had breached rule 10.3 of the broadcasting code, which pertains to the promotion of non-programme-related products and services, and rule 10.4, which pertains to ‘undue prominence’ – of logos, etc.