Bengali news service, Channel I has been rapped by Ofcom for a seven-hour news programme it broadcast in January called ‘Journey Of A Lifetime’.
The presenter and the guests discussed Islamic pilgrimage tours. Viewers were also invited to call the studio hotline or send a text message to the studio to ask questions about the tours or share their experiences if they had been before. The tours were organised by a London-based company called Bismillah Hajj & Umrah, an Islamic tours operator.
The content was broadcast in Bengali and English. Ofcom commissioned a translation of some of the content broadcast in Bengali.
Throughout the programme the presenter referred viewers to Bismillah Hajj & Umrah�۪s website for more details of the tour packages. In addition, for a period of over 30 minutes near the end of the programme, Bismillah Hajj & Umrah�۪s website address appeared in on-screen text alongside the studio hotline and a ���Further Contact� telephone number.
A viewer was concerned that the programme was promoting Bismillah Hajj & Umrah�۪s tours. The Licensee confirmed to Ofcom that neither it, the programme producer, nor any person connected with either, received payment or other valuable consideration for the inclusion of the references to Basmillah Hajj and Umrah�۪s tours during the programme, and that therefore the references had not been subject to any product placement arrangement.
In view of the above, Ofcom considered the material clearly directly promoted the tours, their features and positive qualities, over an extended period, including a number of calls to action to viewers request further information. The programme therefore breached Rule 9.4 of the Code.
In addition, the nature and duration of the promotion of the tours throughout this approximately seven hour programme was such that they were clearly presented in an unduly prominent manner, in breach of Rule 9.5 of the Code.
Further, as the item was presented as editorial material, but nevertheless contained direct, detailed and extended promotions of the tours�۪ features and positive qualities, Ofcom took the view that the item was akin to a teleshopping feature. Ofcom therefore concluded that this editorial material was not distinct from advertising, in breach of Rule 9.2 of the Code.