92 News rapped for promoting restaurant during bulletin

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92 News has been rapped by Ofcom after it featured a news segment about the opening of a restaurant in Southall in May 2019.

The programme lasted for five minutes and included shots of a variety of different dishes served on large serving platters and footage of a chef preparing food.

Ofcom requested information from the channel about any commercial arrangements associated with the references to the restaurant in the programme.

92 News responded by saying that its news covered community events that were of interest to its viewers. On this occasion it had received an invitation to the opening of the restaurant from the Deputy Mayor of Ealing and the restaurant owner. The channel said that it had covered the opening because it was a “unique” event “in relation to Pakistani and Iranian food availability in Southall.”

It added that it “specifically intended to allow viewers to benefit fully from or to interact with” the news item and that it had received no financial benefit from covering the event.

Ofcom concluded that there may be legitimate editorial grounds for news programmes to feature stories about businesses. However, given the duration of the report and the extent to which specific menu items and characteristics of the restaurant were referenced, it considered that the emphasis placed on this business was not editorially justified and was therefore unduly prominent. Therefore, Ofcom found the channel in breach of Rules 9.4 and 9.5.

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