Asian TV channels MATV, Channel S and Channel S ATN have been rapped by media regulator Ofcom for breaching the broadcast code.
First up, MATV, a local channel in Leicester and broadcasting nationally via Sky Digital was caught red handed for showing advertising during programming time.
During routine sampling of the channel۪s output, Ofcom noted that a scrolling caption appeared intermittently across the bottom of the screen throughout afternoon programmes. The caption promoted a premium rate telephone number that viewers could call for live tarot readings.
MATV confirmed that the scrolled caption was editorial output. However, this intermittent promotion of live tarot services appeared unconnected to the content of the programmes over which it appeared.
MATV responded by saying that the scrolling caption was originally broadcast during a “tarot show” that was now no longer being transmitted. It added that the material had been broadcast by mistake and had been removed from air as soon as it was noticed there had been a delay in identifying the error due to staff absence.
Ofcom replied with the following, “we called the promoted premium rate number and a tarot reading service was still being offered to callers. MATV had therefore promoted a tarot reading service throughout afternoon programmes, in breach of Rule 10.3.
In this instance, the on-screen promotion of a tarot reading service had no connection with the programmes in which it appeared. There was no editorial justification for its broadcast and the service was therefore given undue prominence, in breach of Rule 10.4 of the Code.”
Channel S, on the other hand was in breach over another blunder. For two, in fact! Firstly, Channel S ATN – a Bangla infotainment channel was shown the red card after it aired bulletins live from Bangladesh with sponsorship tags. In the UK, it is illegal to broadcast any sort of news bulletin with sponsorship. The incident took place in August last year.
Ofcom said, “Broadcasters are responsible for ensuring that the material they broadcast on services licensed by Ofcom complies with the Code. Ofcom is concerned that Channel S ATN appeared to believe it was acceptable to transmit live material from overseas without doing so. In this instance Channel S ATN broadcast news summaries as sponsored output, in breach of Rule 9.1 of the Code.”
More recently, Channel S broadcasted a show by the name of ‘Mortgage and Finance’ in January this year. A viewer had complained that the show was heavily promoting Premier Properties. Whilst the show was sponsored by Premier Properties, Ofcom does not allow any sort of promotional reference to the sponsor or its activities, services or products, or to any direct or indirect interests.
Further, Ofcom noted that viewers were not informed (by sponsorship credit) of the sponsorship arrangement at the beginning or end of the programme but only as it entered the two commercial breaks within the broadcast.
Channel S said that the programme was a “pilot episode” of teleshopping, produced “as an info commercial for shopping hours in Bengali.” It added that the broadcast “was not supposed to be a normal chat programme” and had been produced to reflect the type of material it had found on shopping channels, rather than having been considered with regard to relevant compliance requirements. The broadcaster said that a full series had not subsequently been commissioned.
Ofcom said, “Channel S told us that a full series of Mortgage and Finance may not have been commissioned, we note that this broadcast was not a stand-alone “pilot episode”. Ofcom was therefore concerned that Channel S could consider Mortgage and Finance to be a “pilot episode” of teleshopping.
Rule 9.6 of the Code aims to ensure transparency of any sponsorship arrangement to viewers by requiring that a sponsored programme is clearly identified as such at its beginning and/or end.
Channel S only featured credits before each of the two commercial breaks in the broadcast. It therefore failed to meet the minimum requirement of placing a sponsorship credit at the beginning and/or end of this one and a half hour programme, and was therefore in breach of Rule 9.6 of the Code.