Livesey says Sport is being victimised over price promo

Livesey: feels Sport is singled out

Sport Newspapers is complaining of victimisation by the Advertising Standards Authority after the ASA referred the Daily Sport to the Office of Fair Trading for possible legal action.

Editor-in-chief Tony Livesey believes his newspaper is being singled out after it published an identical advertisement to one running in The People.

The ASA wants the OFT to consider legal action under the Misleading Advertisements Regulations 1988. It claims Sport Newspapers refused to sign an assurance it would comply with an adverse ASA ruling.

The ruling, in March, stated that a Daily Sport front page splash stating “DAILY Sport 10p Today” was misleading because it implied the newspaper was selling for 10p when the price was 40p and the 10p promotion applied only to a magazine offer.

The newspaper ran a similar promotion on 23 May which has prompted the ASA to go to the OFT.

The authority’s director of advertising practice, Roger Wisbey, said: “Publisher, advertisers and advertising agencies all have a responsibility to comply with the advertising industry’s own code of practice – the CAP Code.

Sport Newspapers have persisted in publishing misleading promotions and so the ASA has resorted to the selfregulatory system’s legal backstop.”

Livesey told Press Gazette he had given the ASA assurances and in order to comply with the ruling, his paper had run the promotion in May in an exactly similar format as that running in The People.

“The People have run it for a year,” Livesey told Press Gazette. “We copied it exactly, typeface, typesize, colours, everything and, lo and behold, the ASA have complained about us.”

He has written to the ASA suggesting that it must have had a long battle with The People. “If they haven’t, it’s victimisation and restriction of trade,” he stated.

“We had had a long debate with them and in the end I said ‘fair enough, we’ll drop the promotion’ and I said we wouldn’t run it in the format they objected to. When we saw The People running a similar promotion, we said we would copy that, but now we’re in the dock.”

Before the ASA’s ruling the Sport had run the promotion on and off for six months and solidly for four months on the front page, without one complaint from a reader, Livesey pointed out.

“I have told the ASA if they have a folder on The People as thick as they have on us, then I will accept that we are not being victimised. But if, as I suspect, no one has said anything to The People, then I want to know why we are being singled out for this treatment.”

A spokeswoman for the ASA said: “The May promotion was different, but we felt it was similar enough to be counted alongside that first one.”

She said that the Sport had been asked to come for a meeting with the ASA but had refused. The ASA was aware The People was running a similar advertisement.

A spokeswoman for The People said the paper had heard nothing from the ASA.

By Jean Morgan

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