ITV’s Meridian Tonight has been rapped by Ofcom after it promoted Dubai and Virgin Atlantic in two news reports broadcast on consecutive days.
The reports on ITV Meridian’s regional news programme, covered Dubai’s increasing popularity as a holiday destination in the south of England.
The Ofcom report said: “While it may be legitimate to include Virgin Atlantic in a news story, this was compromised by its inclusion in a piece of this nature, along with the promotional language and tone used to describe the destination the airline had decided to start flying to.”
The presenter/reporter used phrases including: “Well they say Dubai has everything and by the looks of it, it certainly does…” and “…if it’s weather, security and a rest you’re after, it’s worth a visit.”
Ofcom said that the reports “gave the impression of a promotional video”.
ITV argued that although it had accepted a Virgin press trip and had also accepted the offer of a holiday to Dubai as a competition prize, it “retained complete editorial independence over the reports and was free to say whatever it wanted about the destination and the airline”.
While it did not accept that it was in breach of the broadcasting Code, the broadcaster admitted that on reflections it had probably devoted too much airtime to the Dubai features.
ITV said this was a product of an “enthusiastic” reporter and producers who wanted to bring “something a little different” into the programmes.