Republic Bharat has landed in trouble again with UK media regulator for broadcasting references to India sponsorship Ebixcash during its news bulletins.
During routine monitoring in February 2020, Ofcom identified references to financial exchange distributor Ebixcash during the news programme ‘Bullet 100’. The logo of this company was displayed on the two presenters’ laptop computers, both of which were visible during the programme.
In response to the query by Ofcom, Republic Bharat’s UK operator, WorldView Media acknowledged that the Ebixcash logo should have been masked and apologised for what it considered to be the result of a human error at the transmission operation stage.
Worldview Media said that to prevent a recurrence, technical solutions had been sought to obscure the logo on the presenters’ laptops. It added that until these measures were introduced, it had removed the programme from its schedule. The licencee confirmed that a software solution to mask the appearance of the logo on the laptops was successfully implemented on 4th March 2020.
It said it did not benefit financially from this incident. It added it was aware of the importance of maintaining editorial independence in news programmes and had questioned the production company that had supplied the content about the inclusion of the Ebixcash logos in the programme.
Worldview Media stressed that the issue of third-party branding in news and current affairs has been extensively covered in its compliance training with its operations team, and that it understood the rules and guidance relating to Section Nine of the Code.
Ofcom took into account the Licensee’s representations that the references to Ebixcash in the programme were the result of a human error rather than a lack of knowledge of the rules in Section Nine of the Code.
Ofcom also acknowledged the measures taken by the Licensee to remove the programme from the schedule until a technical solution was found to obscure commercial references in future broadcasts of this programme.
However, Ofcom’s decision is that the inclusion of these logos in a news programme for which there was no editorial justification amounted to a clear breach of Rule 9.5 of the Code.