Ofcom Launches U.K. 'Prometheus' Trailer Probe

Prometheus Explorers at Statue - P 2012
Kerry Brown - TM and © 2011 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

Prometheus Explorers at Statue - P 2012

U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 faces an investigation as the media watchdog looks at whether a special promotion for Ridley Scott's film broke license rules.

LONDON -- The trailer for Ridley Scott's sci-fi thriller Prometheus has landed U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 in hot water with media regulator Ofcom.

The regulator is investigating whether the broadcaster's exclusive U.K. airing, which involved the trailer being shown before Channel 4 viewers were encouraged to book tickets, blurred the lines between advertising and editorial and broke the broadcasting code.

The trailer has been viewed more than 2.7 million times on YouTube, and presales for the movie already have broken records for the BFI Imax theater in central London.

Channel 4 unspooled the trailer April 29 during Homeland\, preceded by a Channel 4 voice-over saying that it was being shown to U.K. viewers as a joint initiative with distributor 20th Century Fox.

Channel 4 also invited viewer reaction on Twitter by promoting feedback using #areyouseeingthis and subsequently broadcast tweets during the Homeland commercial break that followed the debut of the trailer.

During both ad breaks, a Channel 4 voice-over encouraged viewers to buy tickets as the broadcaster's logo appeared in the background.

Ofcom has a stringent set of rules on advertising and editorial separation as part of its broadcasting license agreements.

The rules state that broadcasters must ensure that television advertising and teleshopping is readily recognizable and distinguishable from editorial content and kept distinct from other parts of the program service.