You wouldn’t think that a TV weather forecast could badly fail UK regulator Ofcom’s painstaking standards. In a report that also chastises Playboy TV for a single complaint about an after-midnight broadcast on its Playboy TV Chat channel, it also criticises Al Jazeera for its sponsored weather report.
“A complainant drew Ofcom’s attention to the content of sponsorship credits for Qatar Airways shown around the weather reports broadcast at regular intervals throughout the day, which the complainant considered contravened the Code.”
Ofcom agreed. It states that “Sponsorship credits broadcast around sponsored programmes must not contain advertising messages or calls to action.” Al Jazeera explained that it had gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure total compliance with Ofcom’s rules and which insist that opening and closing elements of the forecast clearly showed that it was a sponsored segment.
Ofcom disagreed. “In Ofcom’s view, Al Jazeera’s argument that the association was clear to the viewer was not sufficient to preclude the Licensee from its obligation to comply with the [rules] … In our view, the ten second opening credits had the appearance of advertisements, and therefore the potential to confuse viewers. Although the credits sought to create thematic links between weather conditions at various locations served by Qatar Airways and services on board Qatar Airways flights, because information to identify the sponsorship arrangement was not included, the distinction between advertising and sponsorship was not sufficiently distinct.”
Ofcom issued an ‘In Breach” slap on the wrist to Al Jazeera.