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 FOX NEWS
Date & time: Saturday 30 August: 1.40pm
Complaint from: 1 viewer
During ‘National Sandwich Month’ in August 2003, Fox News transmitted a four-minute segment about the many uses of tomatoes.
One viewer complained that the item was nothing more than an extended ‘plug’ for Burpee, and amounted to undue prominence for commercial products.
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 item in question was entirely about the Burpee company and its products, and centred on an interview with the owner of the company. The name Burpee was mentioned verbally 16 times during the segment. In addition, Burpee products were displayed prominently on a table, with a number of identity cards printed with the Burpee name.
The item itself mentioned the history of the Burpee company, and concluded with a’taste-test’ of Burpee sauces. The website of the "Burpee" company was displayed on a caption, uninterrupted, for two and a half minutes.
Fox News maintained the inclusion of the products was editorially justified in an item "about the general topic of tomatoes, and not about Burpee's products in particular". It also pointed out that the company only sold seeds, not tomato products, and that the date of transmission was far removed from the spring planting season for tomatoes. Burpee would therefore not have benefited from viewers’ imminent purchases of seeds.
The ITC concluded that the extent of publicity involved was in breach of the Programme Code (Section 8.4) on undue prominence.