Ofcom has rapped B4U Music for lengthy messages in its shows sponsorship credits.
B4U considered that all of the sponsorship credits complied with the Code. It stated that the credits were clearly separated from advertising as the credits were commissioned specifically as sponsorship credits. It also argued that the credits did not contain any advertising messages or calls to action that encouraged viewers to purchase specific products or services.
B4U stated that the same sponsorship credits have been broadcast on other channels and have not been found in breach by Ofcom.
B4U said that the sponsorship credits “did not provide any specific product information and were not linked to the nature and subject matter of the programme.” It argued that the voiceover and on-screen text were brief references to the products and were not a call to action or advertisement.
Ofcom noted the broadcaster۪s argument that the sponsorship credits “were quite brief and did not exceed more that 8 seconds and they do not distract the viewers.”
However, in Ofcom۪s view, the sponsorship credits were simply attached to programme trails rather than being a brief and secondary credit within or alongside a programme trail. Ofcom considered that showing a full-length sponsorship credit after a programme trail could not be deemed to be a brief and secondary reference to the sponsor in a programme trail.
Ofcom notes that the broadcaster used the sponsorship credits broadcast on other channels as a guide for complying these credits. As stated in a note to broadcasters by Ofcom, “Compliance decisions should not be based on material previously broadcast by the licensee or any other licensee which Ofcom has not considered and that we “strongly advise broadcasters not to make assumptions about the compliance of their material on the basis that similar content may have already been broadcast.”
Ofcom is requiring B4U to attend a meeting to ensure that it fully understands its obligations under the Code. Ofcom is putting B4U on notice that it expects improvements to its compliance procedures in this area.