Alcohol Ads on U.K.'s ITV Breached Broadcast Rules, Watchdog Finds

Harry Hill P

The British commercial broadcaster ran TV spots during "You've Been Framed" when kids were likely to watch, the Advertising Standards Authority says.

LONDON – U.K. commercial broadcaster ITV has fallen afoul of rules about running ads for alcohol during shows likely to appeal to people under 18, after airing them while showing home video clips show You've Been Framed.

The Advertising Standards Authority found that 38 episodes of You've Been Framed broadcast on ITV2 broke strict rules on booze advertising.

The program stitches together home video footage sent in by viewers of people falling over, pets doing amazing things or funny clips from weddings, with British comedian Harry Hill providing the voice over links.

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Under U.K. rules, advertising is outlawed from appearing in or around programs targeted at or likely to appeal to under-18s.

The commercial broadcaster told the ASA it checked the compliance of alcohol ads in You've Been Framed against rules for long runs of a show, or what is known as a "series average test." ITV added that there was "little clarity" in the rules over how many shows should be used to evaluate the proportion of under-18s in a long-running series such as You've Been Framed.

But the ASA said using long runs of the show to test against the alcohol rules was not appropriate because it could mean "unreasonable delays when responding to audience changes unless the data was acted upon on a more regular basis."

The broadcaster pointed out that in March it decided to partially restrict alcohol ads in the show to after 8 p.m. on weekends, bank holidays and over Easter.

ITV said it made this decision because it was "appropriate and in the spirit of the [advertising] code to go beyond a strict application of a series average approach for a set of programs that appeared so frequently on ITV2."

The ASA, taking action based on research from an Ofcom investigation, said: "We concluded that the failure to act immediately upon changes in audience indices in the series as a whole … resulted in the scheduling of alcohol ads in breach of the [advertising] code."

The ASA said ITV2 needed to make sure that it reviews series data on a regular basis.

ITV becomes the latest broadcaster to fall foul of the ASA booze rule, with Channel 4, Comedy Central and Discovery also finding themselves in hot water in recent months.