These reports are case summaries of complaints which appeared to raise issues of substance in relation to the interpretation of the ITC Programme Code. Summary statistics of non-substantive complaints can be found in the full reports which are obtainable from the ITC.
Showing Complaints & Interventions Report for COMING ATTRACTIONS
Channel: E! Networks
Date & time: Monday 28 July: 6.00pm
Complaint from: Staff monitoring
E! is a satellite entertainment channel. Coming Attractions is a movie review programme. Film trailers were shown unedited in the same form as they would be seen in the cinema.
The ITC was concerned about the lack of separation between the commercial and editorial elements of the programme. The trailers were very much like adverts, complete with studio credits and promotional voiceovers. Section 8.5 of the Programme Code states that adverts should be confined to paid for advertising time.
Further, the amount of branding within the film trailers raised issues of undue prominence. Section 8.4 of the Programme Code states that no undue prominence may be given in any programme to a commercial product or service. In particular, any reference to such a product or service must be limited to what can clearly be justified by the editorial requirements of the programme itself.
The ITC also asked how the trailers shown in the programme were selected. Product placement, which is defined as the inclusion of, or a reference to, a product or service within a programme in return for payment or other valuable consideration, is not allowed (section 15 of the Code of Programme Sponsorship).
E! said that the trailers used in the programme were extended versions of trailers shown in cinemas in the US and would not have been the same as advertisements that would be seen by British viewers. The trailers were selected on the basis of their scheduled release dates in the US so that viewers in other countries would be made aware of forthcoming releases, usually prior to any official advertising campaign in their ‘territory’. E! said that most often, the trailers broadcast in the UK were for films that were not going to be promoted or released in the UK for some time.
E! also said that even if the film trailers could be classed as advertising for the purposes of the ITC Codes, they believed that their inclusion in the programme would fall within the provisions of paragraph 8.5(b) of the Programme Code. This section allows an entertainment programme to refer to or use extracts from advertisements, provided that no advertisement is shown which has been transmitted in paid-for advertising time within six weeks of the programme series and that any inclusion of an advertisement is justified by the editorial requirements of the programme. E! stated that there was no intended overlap with UK advertising and no co-ordination to achieve that result.
With regard to undue prominence, E! said that Coming Attractions featured films from a number of studios and distributors in a manner in which no particular product or service was highlighted. Since the studios and distributors offered competing films, E! did not think that the inclusion of these studios' and distributors' branding created the impression of any undue commercial influence. E! said that the studio releasing a film is a part of the story concerning the project, and that they believed that including this information served the editorial purpose of providing the audience with interesting information about the films.
Nevertheless, E! said that they had decided to remove the programme from their schedules.
The ITC welcomed E!'s swift action to remove the programme and accepted E!'s assurances that the film trailers were selected on the basis of release dates.
However, the ITC considered that even if the US trailers were not always in exactly the same form as those shown in the UK, the trailers were designed to promote the film and were essentially advertising. Section 8.5 of the Programme Code requires ads to be confined to paid for advertising time. While using edited extracts from film trailers in a movie review programme may well be justifiable, staff did not agree that showing the full, unedited trailers was editorially justified as required by section 8.5(b) of the Programme Code.
Staff also considered that the amount of branding and commercial references within the trailers was not editorially justifiable and amounted to undue prominence, contrary to section 8.4 of the Programme Code.
The programme breached sections 8.4 and 8.5 of the Programme Code (undue prominence and advertisements within programmes).