Bengali news channel, NTV has been rapped by Ofcom for broadcasting sponsorship during a news bulletin in July this year.
‘Borkotmoy Sehri’ was a studio-based programme broadcast during the holy month of Ramadan. It included discussions about the Qur۪an and Islamic issues, as well as recitations from the Qur۪an.
The opening credits of the programme contained a logo for Luminous Real Estate Limited underneath which appeared some on-screen text in Bengali which translates in English as Committed to a better future. There was no on-screen text or voice- over to indicate to viewers that the programme was sponsored by the company.
At the beginning of the programme, one of the presenters stated that the programme was sponsored by Luminous Real Estate Limited: “Assalamu Alikum [peace be upon you]. Dear viewers, we welcome you to watch our show Borkotmoy Sheri supported by Luminous Real Estate Limited.”
In the three areas of the studio in which the programme was filmed, a number of large logos for the sponsor were displayed.
At the beginning of the programme there was one large logo clearly visible behind the presenter. After approximately 20 seconds, the programme featured a second presenter in another part of the studio, who recited an extract of the Qur۪an for approximately four and a half minutes. There were four large logos for the sponsor, one behind this second presenter, one behind him to his left, one directly to his left and another directly to his right. In the majority of the camera shots two of the logos were visible and in a few of the camera shots three of the logos were clearly visible.
The Licensee explained that there was a delay of several hours between receiving the content and transmitting it on NTV to enable it to undertake compliance checks. However, on this occasion, the member of staff who was responsible for ensuring the compliance of the content believed that as the company whose name appeared on the programme was a Bangladeshi company with no business or other commercial interests in the UK, any form of promotion would not be beneficial to them and would therefore not be an issue under the Code. The Licensee explained that it has taken internal disciplinary action against the staff member and has provided further training to all staff to ensure no similar breaches occur in future. The Licensee accepted that it did not comply with the Code on this occasion and has confirmed to Ofcom that it will not broadcast the programme again.
Ofcom judged that the frequency and duration of the number of sponsor logos which appeared in the studio provided the sponsor with greater prominence than was necessary. Further, although there was a brief verbal reference to the sponsorship arrangement at the start of the programme, the frequent sponsor logos throughout the rest of the programme were not accompanied by a statement identifying the sponsorship arrangement.
Ofcom was also concerned that the Licensee had admitted that the staff member in question had not had a clear understanding of the relevant requirements of the Code and therefore welcome the steps it says it has taken to rectify this.