AVMS cited in Ofcom Broadcast Code breaches

The Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS) has been cited in the latest Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin, in which ITV and ESPN were found to be in breach of the rules.

Two rules of the Ofcom Broadcast Code were broken during ITV Morning, a programme broadcast on 29th July 2011. Presenters appeared to promote  and endorse a firm of solicitors, thereby also giving ´undue prominence´ to the company.

In its decision Ofcom referred to its obligations to adhere to its international obligations with respect to advertising included in TV and radio programmes, citing Article 19 of the AVMS Directive, which states: ¨television advertising…shall be readily recognisable and distinguishable…from editorial content…and…shall be kept quite distinct from other parts of the programme by optical and/or acoustic and/or spatial means.¨

Similarly the Ofcom Broadcast Code generally prohibits products, services and trade marks from being promoted in programming and any “undue prominence” of products, services or trade marks being given in programming. In this case, ITV was found to be in breach of rules 9.4 and 9.5 of the Code.

In the case of ESPN, Articles 20 and 23 of the EU Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS) Directive were cited in the Ofcom decision. These articles of the Directive set out strict limits on the amount and scheduling of television advertising. Ofcom has transposed these requirements by means of key rules in the Code on the Scheduling of Television Advertising (“COSTA”). Rule 17 stipulates the maximum number of advertising breaks programmes may contain.

In this case, Ofcom found that ten programmes broadcast by ESPN contained more than the permitted number of advertising breaks stipulated in Rule 17 of COSTA, and concluded that this was largely the result of human error.

Ofcom´s Broadcast Bulletin summarises complaints and breaches of the Broadcast Code, which sets the rules for what broadcasters may or may not broadcast. The full text of the decision can be found in the latest edition, click here.

A summary of the incident as reported in at Out-Law.com, click here.