Adjudication of Ofcom Content Sanctions Committee - Life TV Media Ltd in respect of its service Life TV (TLCS 361)

Published date20 April 2007
IssuerOffice of Communications
Ofcom Content Sanctions Committee
Consideration of sanction against Life TV Media Ltd in respect of its service
Life TV (TLCS 361)
For Breaches of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code:
Rule 10.1 – Broadcasters must
maintain the independence of editorial
control over programme content
Rule 10.2 – Broadcasters must ensure
that the advertising and programme
elements of a service are kept
Rule 10.3 – Products and services
must not be promoted in programmes
Rule 10.4 – No undue prominence
may be given in any programme to a
product or service
Rule 10.5 – Product placement is
prohibited. Product placement is
defined in the Code as “the inclusion
of, or a reference to a product or
service within a programme in return
for payment or other valuable
consideration to the programme
maker or broadcaster (or any
representative or associate of either)”.
Between 8 August 2005 – 28 February 2006
Decision To impose a financial penalty on Life TV
Media Ltd of £100,000 (payable to HM
Paymaster General).
On the basis detailed in the Decision, under powers delegated from the Ofcom Board
to Ofcom’s Content Sanctions Committee (“the Committee”), Ofcom has decided:
1) Life TV (licence number TLCS 361) is a light entertainment channel for family
viewing that broadcasts on the Sky platform (originally on EPG1 160 and then
137). The licensee of Life TV is Life TV Media Ltd (“the Licensee” or “Life TV
2) Life TV Media is also the ultimate parent company (and was, until December
2006, the direct holding company) of Life Show-Case Ltd, which operates Life
Show-Case (TLCS 963), a service licensed separately from Life TV.
3) Britain’s Best Breaks was a travel series broadcast daily on Life TV at 18:30. It
was launched in 2003 and was in its third series in 2005. Each 30 minute
1 Electronic Programme Guide
programme contained between 25 and 43 features, the majority of which were
about accommodation and restaurants; other commercial organisations, for
example tourist attractions and shopping centres, also appeared.
4) Ofcom received a complaint claiming that hotels, restaurants and other
businesses were featured in the series Britain’s Best Breaks in return for a fee.
5) Having viewed a sample five editions of Britain’s Best Breaks, Ofcom had
serious concerns about the compliance of this series regarding product
placement, separation of advertising from programme content, undue
prominence, product promotion and editorial integrity. The organisations were
featured in great detail and film included footage of the services offered in
addition to shots of their hoardings. These were all named by the presenter and
described in such effusive, glowing terms that each programme had a distinct
feel of advertising (see Annex 1 for sample quotations from the series).
6) On further investigation, it became apparent that organisations and businesses
paid the producer Richland Media and Communications (“RMC”) to appear in
the programme. For instance, the producer’s website about Britain’s Best
Breaks strongly suggested that businesses could pay in order to be included in
the programme. There was also a rate card on RMC’s website, which gave
prices for an ‘advertising opportunity’ and ‘placement’ with clear reference to
appearances within the programme. The proprietor of one of the featured
businesses also confirmed to Ofcom that he had paid for his business to be
included in the programme.
7) This raised some very serious issues under the Broadcasting Code (“the
Code”), in particular, as to whether the Licensee was trying to pass off what
was effectively advertising content as editorial. There was no transparency to
viewers who would have been unaware that organisations had paid to feature
in the programme.
8) Following the investigation, Ofcom recorded the following breaches of the
Rule 10.1 - Life TV Media had not maintained independence of editorial
control over the content of Britain’s Best Breaks;
Rules 10.2 and 10.3 - in each edition, many of the features appeared to be
advertising rather than editorial content, in that they were excessively detailed
and favourable, going far beyond the typical content of other holiday
programmes, and often providing contact details; there was often a clear
sense of a ‘sell’ or call to action;
Rule 10.4 - the manner in which the majority of businesses were featured
within the programme was unduly prominent, even where the reference did
not go so far as to be considered promotional; and
Rule 10.5 - product placement had occurred; there was clear evidence that
businesses had paid the programme producer to be featured in the
9) Given that Britain’s Best Breaks was a long-running series (first broadcast in
2003), and was broadcast daily and that, despite overwhelming indications to
the contrary, Life TV Media for a long period continued to argue that no
breaches of the Code had taken place, the Executive considered that the
breaches were repeated and serious.

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