ATN Bangla has been rapped by Ofcom for exceeding commercial airtime in March 2021.
The channel received a complaint about text, which appeared in a strapline at the bottom of the screen during a programme. The text, reading “For advertisement, please call T: [telephone number]” appeared alongside information about the channel and its forthcoming programmes.
The text was displayed on screen for a total of 33 minutes and 24 seconds between 14:00 and 15:00. When taking into account other advertising (e.g. advertising spots in commercial breaks) the total duration of advertising in this clock hour was 44 minutes and 27 seconds. We considered this raised potential issues under Rule 2 of COSTA.
The Licensee explained that due to the Coronavirus pandemic its Sales office had closed, and it was concerned about the impact this would have. It added that the telephone number on screen belonged to the CEO of ATN Bangla and its intention was to inform existing advertisers to contact the CEO directly, rather than promote, to potential advertisers, the availability of advertising opportunities on the channel.
ATN Bangla argued that the text was “succinct” and it reiterated that its purpose was to assure its “patrons”, provided that anyone called the channel, that it was “business was as usual”. Consequently, it did not consider that the invitation to contact the channel was advertising.
Ofcom recognises the challenges that broadcasters are continuing to face as a result of the
Coronavirus pandemic. However, Ofcom was concerned that despite the Licensee’s assurances in previous cases, further instances of non-compliance have occurred. Ofcom intend to arrange a compliance meeting to discuss with the Licensee its approach to compliance in this area.