Demon censured for ‘biggest UK ISP’ claims

AOL wins official recognition that it's bigger than Demon, while FreeServe chuckles at them both

It's official: there is no difference between an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and an Online Service Provider (OSP), at least according to UK advertising watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority. The ruling (such as it is) followed complaints from AOL UK, a joint venture between AOL US and German media conglomerate Bertelsmann, that advertising claims made by Demon Internet, the company the first popularised Internet access in the UK, were false and misleading. Demon's ads claimed it was still the UK's number one ISP -- but, said, AOL UK, with over 460,000 subscribers' we have more members than Demon does. Demon's defence followed the old line that while companies like AOL and CompuServe also offered Internet access, the fact they provided so much more content themselves in addition, clearly differentiated them from businesses like Demon content to simply hook users up to the Net. The ASA, however, ruled that that argument, which has is origins back in the days when AOL and CompuServe didn't offer Internet access, no longer applied and that most people would not understand the difference between OSP and ISP. Demon was asked to "stop implying that most people were connected to the Internet through Demon". Ironically, even allowing for the OSP/ISP argument, Demon has arguably now been overtaken by Dixon's ISP, FreeServe. ®

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