Venus TV has been found in breach of two rules over sponsorship during chat show ‘Apne Sitaray’.

The programme was sponsored by two restaurants, one called Mem Saab۪ and the other called Bilal۪. Ofcom received a complaint that, during the programme, the presenter positively endorsed the sponsors۪ businesses.

Ofcom noted that a sponsorship credit at the start of the programme referred only to Mem Saab۪ as the programme sponsor. After this, and coming back to the programme from an advertising break, respectively, the presenter made the following comments:

“Our sponsor Mem Saab from Leamington Top of the Town, very delicious food is available from there. You go there and eat your meal; during lunch time also you get beautiful meal. You go over there, enjoy your meal, would thank Mem Saab and also would thank Mr Bilal who has sponsored the programme. Mr Bilalji۪s Kebab humm mouth watering, Bilalji۪s name! Dear Bilalji I would thank you. You make many dishes for eating including; speak of Kebab, speak of biryani, speak of doner Kebab, every type of curry and many more I shall mention as we go on.”

“I once again thank our sponsor Mem Saab located in Leamington – Top of the Town who cook very delicious meals. Even during lunch time you wish, you can go. Take your family with you, take your friends with you and would thank Kashmir Singh Koonerji, Paramjit and Mainiji who have sponsored this programme. And our other sponsor Bilal, Melton Road Leicester who make beautiful kebabs. Kebabs look very beautiful but are very tasty; eat lamb kebab, eat chicken kebab, eat biryani and enjoy every type of taste. So you must go to Bilal and enjoy every type of food.”

Under Ofcom rules, it is prohibited for a presenter to promote the sponsor, its name, trademark, image, activities, services or products or to any of its other direct or indirect interests.

Venus TV said the comments were an expression of personal gratitude and appreciation of the food which the presenter had enjoyed rather than “an intention to deliberately promote or advertise the sponsor’s products”.

Rule 9.6 of the Code requires broadcasters to ensure that it is clear to the viewer when a programme has been sponsored and who it has been sponsored by. The rule also requires that sponsorship credits are broadcast at the beginning and/or end of the programme. In this case, while a sponsorship credit was broadcast at the start of the programme, it referred only to one of the programmes sponsors, the Mem Saab۪ restaurant, and not to the Bilal۪ restaurant. Ofcom therefore considered that the second of the two sponsorship arrangements in place for this programme was not clearly identified within the sponsorship credit, in breach of Rule 9.6 of the Code.

Rule 9.5 of the Code prohibits any promotional reference to the sponsor, its name, trademark, image, activities or products. Unless they are non-promotional, incidental and justified editorially, references to the sponsor should not feature in sponsored programmes. Broadcasters must therefore take care to ensure that sponsored programmes are not – or do not appear to be – distorted for commercial purposes.

The references were therefore promotional and were not editorially justified, and therefore the programme was in breach of Rule 9.5.