MATV in breach of product placement rule for astrology show

MATV has been rapped by Ofcom over a product placement breach during an astrology show last September.

During monitoring, Ofcom identified an episode of Grahonkakhe, an astrology programme hosted by Gurudev Suresh Shrimali Ji, a popular astrologer in India. The programme covered the Hindu festival, Navratri, planetary movements and various meditative and spiritual practices. During the programme, viewers were provided with information about how they could make an appointment to meet the host and have an astrology reading.

In response to Ofcom’s initial request for information, MATV advised Ofcom that it considered the content to be teleshopping. Ofcom considered that the material did not fulfil the criteria to be classified as such. In our view the content was presented as a programme. MATV added that this was a long running programme which had been broadcast by MATV for the past 12 years. It said that when “the new management took control [in 2007] this programme was onair and no contract was supplied to [it] by the previous management. It has been [broadcast] since with no changes at all; hence [it] never felt the need of a contract”.

Ofcom concluded that the programme was hosted by Gurudev Suresh Shrimali Ji and comprised spiritual and meditative teachings related to Hinduism. However, it considered the numerous references to Gurudev Suresh Shrimali Ji’s contact details served an advertising rather than editorial purpose and this could not be justified by the editorial context. As a result, the references were unduly prominent, in breach of Rule 9.10 of the Code.