Ahlebait TV accepts ‘sponsor’ error

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Ahlebait TV has been found in breach of broadcasting rules 10.3 and 10.4 for promoting a college in a phone-in programme.

Regulator Ofcom says the rules are to ensure that broadcasters maintain independent editorial control over programme content, and that programmes are not distorted for commercial purposes, however Ofcom received a complaint that during a call-in programme about legal issues, a permanent caption was displayed on screen which gave out contact information and the names of the solicitors presenting the programme, from Denning Solicitors. The caption read:

“Qanooni Mashwary, Live call: 0208 900 1742, Erian K Reilly, Solicitor Advocate, Zeeshan Saqib Mian, Solicitor Advocate, Denning Solicitors, Brought to you by Charles Edward College”.

Ahlebait TV said the programme was not sponsored by Charles Edward College but said the caption was included by mistake as the result of an error by a trainee member of staff. The broadcaster said this individual had been suspended and that the programme had also been suspended. The broadcaster apologised for this mistake and assured Ofcom that such an incident would not happen again.

Ahlebait TV said the reference to Denning Solicitors was included only as a factual credit to name the firm the presenters worked for. The broadcaster said it had no commercial arrangement with either Denning Solicitors or Charles Edward College.

Ofcom noted that Ahlebait TV admitted that the reference to Charles Edward College was made in error by a trainee member of staff. There was no valid basis to mention the college, as it did not appear to be connected to the programme in any way. Without any editorial justification for the reference, and in view of the implication that the college had sponsored the programme, Ofcom concluded that this reference amounted to a promotion for the college, in breach of Rule 10.3. The fact this caption was on screen throughout the programme made the reference unduly prominent and in breach of Rule 10.4.

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