Satellite digital TV channel, AT Global, has been told off by Ofcom over promotional messages it broadcast through its programming airtime.

Three viewers complained that the services promoted on screen appeared to have had no relevance to the programmes in, which they were being promoted.

Ofcom also monitored AT Global’s output between 18:00 and 20:30 on 23rd July 2009. The programming comprised drama, programme trails, cookery and extended presenter discussion. Captions scrolling along the bottom of the screen showed advertisements not to be clearly separated from the programme.

In its Code, Ofcom states that “broadcasters must ensure that the advertising and programme elements of a service are clearly separated.”

To worsen matters, AT Global was unable to provide recordings of the output required by Ofcom. It is a part of the broadcaster’s terms and conditions with Ofcom that TV broadcast recordings are retained for 60 days after transmission. Furthermore they must provide Ofcom with any such material upon request.

With regard to the retention and supply of recordings required by Ofcom, AT Global said that a recent employee, whom it described as “an expert in [the] technical/broadcasting field”, had left the organisation, taking with him the channel۪s recording equipment and recordings. The broadcaster added that these materials had not been returned to the broadcaster and it had therefore reported the matter to the police.

With regard to the material scrolled throughout the period monitored by Ofcom, AT Global said that it had now stopped all scrolled promotions and, should it wish to reintroduce the broadcast of such material, it would seek further guidance from Ofcom.

The broadcaster added that the scrolled advertisements had been intended for broadcast only during commercial breaks. It believed that the employee, above, may have deliberately broadcast the message over programmes to cause a breach of the Code.

Ofcom said it did not feel AT Global had robust compliance procedures in place.

It found the channel in breach for not providing recordings required by Ofcom, even though it noted the incident involving the former employee. Ofcom said, “However, compliance is a primary function in running a television service licensed by Ofcom and such a failure severely hampers Ofcom in carrying out its statutory duties.”

With regards to scroll adverts, Ofcom said the messages stayed on screen almost two and a quarter of the two and a half hours of the output. Ofcom said AT Global had appeared to have broadcast a scrolled advertisement (over a sustained period) during programmes, from which it was not clearly separated (by, for example, being placed in a banner), in breach.

Commercial airtime on UK TV channels must not exceed 12 minutes in any hour. AT Global broadcast a number of brief commercial breaks during the period monitored by Ofcom.

Ofcom felt the scrolled advertisements were each broadcast for periods in excess of 12 minutes in any single clock hour.