UK’s Channel 4 In Hot Water With OFCOM Over Prometheus TV Spot

Page Mackinley - Author
By

Aug. 22 2013, Updated 8:23 a.m. ET

UK television broadcaster, Channel 4 , is in hot water with OFCOM, the UK’s independent communications regulator and competition authority, over its broadcast of a TV spot trailer for Sir Ridley Scott’s film, Prometheus.

The investigation centers on Channel 4’s exclusive airing of a three minute trailer during the first ad break of primetime show Homeland on Sunday April 29. Past highest figures for UK viewership of Homeland have reached 2.7 million. That figure approximated the viewing stats for the aired trailer.

20th Century Fox’s marketing for Prometheus, the much hyped, forthcoming sci-fi epic from Scott has been notably intensive, and it’s clear Fox sought to harness the huge viewership of Homeland ahead of Prometheus’s release in the UK on June 1.

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On Sunday April 29, in a comprehensive, advertising tie-in that involved Channel 4, social media site, Twitter, and an online broadcast, at approximately 21:10 (ten minutes after Homeland began), viewers were shown the trailer then encouraged to share their thoughts about it on Twitter using a specific hashtag. Some of those messages were then shown in the next ad break.

OFCOM’s investigation will look into whether or not possible breaches of their broadcasting code occurred during those two ad breaks. Specifially, whether Channel 4’s voiceover encouragement to viewers to buy tickets (which did occur, in both ad breaks), crossed the line between broadcasting into overt advertising while not declaring itself as such.

Strict rules apply to boundaries between editorial and advertising content and are part of the code on Television advertising. In this instance, a breach would fall under this part of the code:

“Broadcasters must ensure that television advertising and teleshopping is readily recognisable and distinguishable from editorial content and kept distinct from other parts of the programme service. This shall be done by optical (including spatial) means; acoustic signals may also be used as well.”

It’s possible OFCOM’s investigation may have been triggered by the recent BFI (British Film Institute) announcemnt, of record breaking pre-sale figures for Prometheus at its flagship IMAX cinema in London’s South Bank following the airing of the TV Spot trailer.

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International Trailer for Prometheus shown on April 29 ( without TV voiceover)

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