Media regulator Ofcom has rapped B4U Music for offering viewers the opportunity to obtain ringtones of the songs that featured on the channel.

Viewers were prompted with an on-air graphic where they could purchase a ringtone by sending a text message to a premium rate service.

Ofcom does not allow broadcasters to mix promotions of other services within its programming airtime. However, B4U Music, which over the past few months has been exposing its new ‘ringtones’ service, was deemed “unacceptable” by Ofcom.

When Ofcom contacted B4U Network regarding this complaint received by a viewer, it explained that the programmes in question offered viewers the opportunity to purchase the ringtones of the songs featured. B4U considered these ringtones met the definition of programme-related material because they were directly derived from the songs featured in the programmes.

The broadcaster considered that not only was the promotion of these services editorially justified, its audience would expect this type of service from the channel. It believed the supply of ringtones provided viewers the opportunity to obtain the “full benefits of the song they are watching”. It also considered that the promotion of the ringtones was not unduly prominent as it appeared at the beginning or end of a song only.

Ofcom objected to the use of ringtones being promoted during programming airtime as significant for viewers or met the Code۪s definition of programme-related material.

The songs from which the ringtones were derived were not created specifically for the programme. Ofcom considers that neither the songs nor the ringtones are programme-related material. As such, it was not appropriate for the broadcaster to promote the services within the programmes.