Media regulator Ofcom has slapped the wrist of interactive sex chat programme Sport TV after it gave undue prominence and promoted the Daily Sport newspaper.
The programme, which was broadcast unencrypted on the Lucky Star digital channel, encouraged viewers to contact provocatively dressed presenters via a premium rate phone services.
In the March 10 programme, a presenter flicked through a copy of the Sport newspaper and made a number of references to its content, saying: “We’ve had a little perusal through the paper tonight, yes, as it is Sport TV night we’re gonna have a few little looks at the daily rag.”
She continued by talking about stories appearing in the newspaper before referring to the Sport’s “search for a stunna” competition. Ofcom said the competition was also referred to in a caption that appeared on-screen continuously for 14 minutes.
Ofcom ruled that the show breached the broadcasting code as the newspaper was frequently referred to visually and verbally and its website was promoted.
Broadcaster, the Escape Channel, told Ofcom the presenter was “simply reviewing a newspaper” but conceded that the programme, which has since been discontinued, could have been “better produced” and that it would give “careful regard” should a programme of a similar nature be considered in the future.
The watchdog said a clear separation should be maintained between programmes and advertising to prevent distortion for commercial purposes.
Its ruling stated: “Ofcom judged there was no editorial justification for the number and nature of the references to the Daily Sport.
“The presenter referred to the stories in the newspaper while flicking through it, she also gave a lengthy verbal and visual promotion of the newspaper’s ‘search for a stunna’ competition. Overall, this sequence gave the Daily Sport undue prominence within the programme.”
Ofcom also found the detail and frequency of references to the Sport, as well as the verbal and visual encouragements to viewers to visit its website, actively promoted the newspaper.
Escape Channel said it had paid the Daily Sport “for the right to mention that publication’s name as part of the theme of the programme”, but that it had no other commercial relationship with the Daily Sport.
These assurances from the broadcaster that no payment was made for references to the Sport led Ofcom to rule that the show had not breached its ban on product placement.