CNN breaks Ofcom rules on news sponsorship

Ofcom has warned CNN that it has breached UK TV rules banning the sponsorship of news programmes.

The broadcast regulator has dealt with a complaint made over Connector of the Day, a seven-minute section which appears in the Connect the World programme – broadcast in the UK on satellite and Freeview – which is sponsored by Skype.

A viewer was particularly concerned over Connector of the Day Michael Steele, chairman of the US Republican National Committee, who during his slot criticised the policies of US President Barack Obama.

Turner Broadcasting told Ofcom: ‘The segment format of the ‘Connector of the Day’ is explicitly not a news and current affairs format, even though it sits in a current affairs show.

“CNN invites guests for the segment who have no relationship with the immediate news agenda of the programme in which the segment is placed.

“The guests are asked to answer questions which have been posed by CNN’s viewers, not CNN, and are selected so as to avoid any connection with current events. Information provided about the guest is factual information for context.”

But Ofcom said: “A broadcaster’s editorial control over the content of its news and current affairs programming should not be, or appear to be, compromised…

“Ofcom has significant concerns with Turner’s compliance with Rule 9.1 of the Code. In light of this, Ofcom is requiring the broadcaster to attend a meeting to discuss these concerns. Further, Ofcom is putting the licensee on notice that any further breaches of Rule 9.1 will be taken extremely seriously and in such circumstances Ofcom may consider further regulatory action.”

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