Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

UK ASA Bans TV Ads For Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

The UK advertising watchdog Advertising Standards authority has ruled that ads for the video game Call of Duty may not be aired during the day when children might be watching. The British Board of Film Classification had okayed it for young persons, but after receiving complaints, the ASA said the game contains violence and ads aired during daytime hours (that is, before 7:30 in the evening) and highlight that violence are inappropriate for young people. Here are excerpts from the ASA's ruling.

The ASA understood that the ad had been cleared with a scheduling restriction that meant it should not be broadcast in or adjacent to programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal particularly to persons below the age of 16 (an ex-kids restriction). We noted that the ad was broadcast at 2.30pm during a premier league football match and that audience index figures showed that a small proportion of viewers were children aged under 16. We also noted Activision's comment that the ad had been given a Parental Guidance (PG) certificate by the BBFC for in-store use, which meant that it had been rated as being suitable for general viewing, although some scenes may not be suitable for young children.

We noted the ad featured computer-generated scenes of warfare in various cities around the world. The ad contained scenes of extensive gunfire, explosions and destruction, and these scenes were accompanied by sound effects of weapons being fired, explosions and soldiers shouting. We also noted the ad featured music in the background which sounded like a low-pitched siren and which added to the dramatic nature of the scenes. We considered that the scenes of violence and destruction, together with the sound effects and music, could cause distress to some children who might see the ad. Although we noted that the ad was only shown during the football, we concluded that it was inappropriate for broadcast during the day when young children might be watching and the ex-kids restriction was insufficient. We considered a post 7.30pm restriction would have been more appropriate.

The ad breached BCAP Code rules 5.1 (Harm and offence) and 32.3 (Scheduling).

 

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