Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Monday, December 28, 2009

ASA Finds BT Vision Ad On Movies Misleading

The Advertising Standards Authority has banned an ad by BT Vision seeming to claim to air movies before BSkyB makes them available. ASA received complaints from BSkyB and from viewers, reviewed the ad, and found the ad misleading. 

From the ruling:

The ASA understood that BT Vision was an on-demand service, available to BT Total Broadband customers. We understood those customers could either opt to pay a monthly fee in order to access a library of on-demand content at no extra cost (which included films but not the new releases promoted in the ad, for which there was an additional charge) or choose to pay on a per programme basis for any on-demand content, including new film releases, as well as having access to regular television. We understood that Sky Box Office was an add-on service available to Sky subscribers, which also made programmes and films available to customers on a pay-per-programme basis. We understood that Sky Movies were rolling film channels with particular themes, such as Sky Movies Family or Sky Movies Action and Horror, which could be available to viewers with Sky or other digital TV providers, depending on whether customers had opted into them as part of their package. We understood that films on Sky Movies did not have to be paid for individually but could not be watched at the time of a viewer's choosing unless the viewer also had the facility (available with some types of subscription) to pause live TV, whereas new film releases on BT Vision and Sky Box Office did have to be paid for individually but could be watched at a time of the viewer's choosing.

We noted that new films were generally released first in cinemas and would then become available via on demand services such as BT Vision and Sky Box Office, before becoming available on dedicated film TV channels such as Sky Movies. We considered that, because the distinction between Sky Movies and Sky Box Office was unlikely to be clear to all viewers, the claim "BT Vision is a clever way to watch TV on demand ... choose from new film releases like Slumdog Millionaire before they're shown on Sky Movies" was likely to give the misleading impression that it was possible to see new movies on BT Vision before they were released on Sky. We noted on-screen text stating "New release films are available on Sky Box Office at the same time as BT Vision" but concluded this was insufficient to avoid the misleading impression given by the ad as a whole.

On this point the ad breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rules 5.1.1, 5.1.2, 5.1.3 (Misleading advertising) 5.4.2 (Misleading advertising: superimposed text) and 5.4.6 (Misleading advertising: comparative advertising).

...

We considered that, because in terms of the on-demand availability of new release films, the most similar Sky service to BT Vision was Sky Box Office, whereas the comparison drawn was between BT Vision and Sky Movies, the ad was likely to mislead by giving viewers the impression that they would be able to see new movies more quickly with BT Vision than with Sky when that was not the case. We noted on-screen text stating "New release films are available on Sky Box Office at the same time as BT Vision" but concluded that was insufficient to remove the overall impression that new release films were available more quickly with BT than with Sky. We concluded that the comparison was likely to mislead.

On this point the ad breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rules 5.1.1, 5.1.2, 5.1.3 (Misleading advertising) 5.4.2 (Misleading advertising: superimposed text) and 5.4.6 (Misleading advertising: comparative advertising).


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