Feeds

Ofcom reins in TV psychics and adult chat

I'm sensing... new rules to ensure separation of editorial and ads

Business security measures using SSL

Ofcom is proposing new rules for TV and radio shows which use premium-rate phone lines to raise revenue, with a view to ensuring that editorial and advertising are kept separate.

The new rules will apply to any show that provides a premium-rate number, even in a peripheral role, and aims to ensure that promotion of the phone service never becomes the sole purpose of the programme. This is particularly obvious with adult-chat services and psychic hotlines, which sometimes feature a host discussing incoming, premium-rated, messages. The UK regulator feels that's an advertisement, and should be subject to advertising rules.

With revenue from TV advertising falling, companies leapt to create programming dependent on premium-rate services. The scramble culminated in the UK edition of Big Brother which was largely self-financing, with the advert breaks being pure profit for Channel 4.

Recent scandals have curtailed that growth but phonelines still provide a significant income, and Ofcom is keen to ensure programmes don't become solely vehicles for promoting them. UK TV has always insisted that programmes mustn't promote products, forcing a generation to use terms such as "sticky tape" in order to avoid mentioning household names on TV, but the slow growth of personal video recorders could eventually make product placement the only way to pay for television programmes.

Until that day Ofcom will be on hand to make sure the ad breaks are long enough to get the kettle on, and don't intrude into our programming. The new rules use terms like "undue prominence" and "primary purpose", which should hold back the tide despite being heavily open to interpretation.

Interested parties can comment on the proposals before 22nd May. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...
Who us, dodgy? Vast majority of mobile apps fail privacy test
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.