NDTV Imagine and Venus TV have been given a warning by media regulator Ofcom for two seperate mishaps on-air.

The first, involved Shah Rukh Khan’s show ‘Knights and Angels’ broadcast on NDTV Imagine in March and April. Two viewers complained about the prominence the sponsor Sunsilk received during the show. “Sunsilk presents Knights and Angels” was displayed in several places, including on the set, on small screens on the front of the judges۪ table and on the back of the judges۪ cue cards.

Ofcom also noted that cans of Sprite in front of each of the judges were placed in such a way as to make them clearly visible in both programmes.

NDTV Imagine Limited told Ofcom that it acquired the series from its parent company NDTV Imagine India. The broadcaster said that the references to Sprite in the programmes were arranged in India, and that it had no involvement in the arrangement, nor had it received any material benefit from the inclusion of the product in the programmes.

With regards to the references to the sponsor Sunsilk displayed on the set during both programmes, NDTV considered that because it had acquired the series from outside the UK and had not benefited from the sponsorship arrangement with Sunsilk.

The broadcaster added that “these elements were part of the original production and appeared in the background and would have been difficult to mask successfully without creating a regular distraction to the viewer and possibly giving greater prominence to the sponsor”. However, it did accept that it would have been possible to blur the screens in front of the judges۪ desk and on the cue cards. The broadcaster said that whilst the Sunsilk name was present within the programme, the references were in vision only and did not feature products or any promotional information about Sunsilk. NDTV added that its production team had thought the visual references to Sunsilk would be considered permissible because the programme was acquired from outside the UK and because the references featured no promotional messages.

Venus TV’s breakfast show ‘Good Morning Europe’ has also landed the broadcaster in trouble. A viewer complained to Ofcom that the show promoted “for flight tickets to India or Pakistan” competition with premium numbers and text entry details even at times when the editorial content of the programme was unrelated to the competition. In Ofcom’s rules and regulations, it states “No undue prominence may be given in any programme to a product or service.”

Venus TV described the programme as “a very casual show which has various topics running throughout…one of the talking points of the day was “dream holiday destinations”, therefore the promotion of [the] competition was relevant to remind viewers it was the last day of the competition.” The broadcaster added that dream holiday destinations were discussed “on an ad hoc basis, so the scroll with the premium rate number was on screen for the benefit of viewers who wanted to be part of the competition.”

Ofcom said, “It is generally acceptable to promote a premium rate number as an entry route to a competition broadcast within editorial content. However, premium rate numbers are also regarded as products or services, as they are generally used as a means to raise revenue.

If a competition is being run within a programme, Ofcom generally considers that there is editorial justification to promote a premium rate number as an entry route for the competition at that time.

However, we are likely to consider the promotion of that premium rate number at other times during the programme as unduly prominent i.e. when the competition is not being run as part of the programme.

In this case, we accept that the competition was ongoing and had commenced before the programme started. Nevertheless, the competition was repeated as part of the programme, being promoted by the presenters. Ofcom therefore considers that the promotion of the premium rate telephone and text entry routes were editorially justified at those times. However, there was no editorial justification for their promotion when the competition was not being featured as part of the programme in particular, during ‘ad hoc’ discussions concerning ‘dream holiday destinations.’

Ofcom therefore considers that the promotion of the premium rate numbers at times when the competition was not being featured in the programme was unduly prominent.”