U.K. Media Watchdog Slaps Sony's Wrists Over TV Ad Time Violation

Ofcom cites the Sony Entertainment Television network for a "minutage violation" after TV advertising exceeds the country's 12 minutes per-hour limit.

LONDON – U.K. media watchdog Ofcom has caught Sony Corp.'s general entertainment channel Sony Entertainment Television airing too much advertising per hour.

The rules from the code on the scheduling of TV advertising states that  “time devoted to television advertising and teleshopping spots on any channel in any one hour must not exceed 12 minutes.”

But Ofcom noted Monday in its latest broadcast bulletin that May 16 this year saw Sony Entertainment Television (UK) transmit one minute and four seconds more advertising than the amount permitted in a single hour.

Sony told Ofcom that it has "well-established" procedures in place at all stages of the scheduling production process, but on this occasion "a late change to the schedule resulted in a minutage violation which was missed due to human error internally and at playout."

The broadcaster also said it has introduced extra checks in light of the ad slip-up to "mitigate the risk of further errors" when it came to late schedule changes.

Ofcom said it has a legal duty to set standards for broadcast content, which it considers are best calculated to secure a number of standards objectives.

One of these objectives is that “the international obligations of the United Kingdom with respect to advertising included in television and radio services are complied with.”

The media watchdog said the amount of advertising broadcast by Sony was in breach of its rules, and it isn't the first time Sony has had its knuckles wrapped for so-called "minutage" ad violations.

At the time of the earlier incidents, Sony said it would put in place practices to prevent further violations.

The watchdog noted Sony's assurances it is taking steps to prevent more mistakes and also that in this instance, the circumstances differed to the previous cases.

However, Ofcom said it was "concerned that, despite previous assurances by Sony, its revised procedures have not proved sufficiently robust to prevent a further breach."

Ofcom expects Sony to avoid any recurrence of this issue, the watchdog said sternly in its bulletin.

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