Broadcasting Authority concern at ads for toys and betting services

A broadcasting watchdog has expressed concern that TV commercials for toys and betting services shown on foreign TV stations are in breach of Irish broadcasting codes.

A review by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland of opt-out advertising content transmitted on non-Irish licensed channels found infringements of its codes relating to ads targeting very young children and the promotion of gambling.

A total of 39 foreign stations carry TV ads directed specifically at Irish audiences. All the channels are licensed by the British TV regulator, Ofcom, and do not have to conform to the codes and rules of the BAI.

In its latest regular review which covered 2015 and 2016, the BAI said it monitored advertising content on 12 channels including Channel 4, Sky One, Sky News, E4, Sky Sports 1 and Comedy Central. 

The other stations were Discovery, At the Races, Nickelodeon, Challenge, MTV, and Sky Living.

The BAI said it identified 35 breaches, including 28 which infringed its Children’s Commercial Communications Code — all of which were broadcast on Nickelodeon.

The BAI said:

A key issue emerging is commercial communications for products aimed at children under six years not stating the onscreen warning orally.

It said the absence of a such a warning accounted for 26 of the 28 breaches.

It requires TV ads for products or services aimed at young children to state orally any on-screen messages or small print to ensure that children under six understand the message. 

For example, the requirement of certain toys to have batteries or that some products are sold separately.

Among the toys whose commercials were in breach of the code were Paw Patrol, Playmobil, Thomas the Tank Engine, Disney, and Sylvanian Families products, as well as Little Tikes First Flyer, Hot Wheels Ultimate Garage, Octonauts Gup-K vehicle, and My Little Pony Crystal Empire.

The BAI said it was concerned about the issue as it had also been identified as a problem in previous reviews as well as arising in the monitoring of ads on Irish stations.

Six breaches related to ads for betting services whose content was deemed to promote gambling. 

They were ads for Ladbrokes and Paddy Power on Channel 4 and for on Sky One, Sky News and Sky Living. 

The other infringement was an ad for Poker Stars on E4 which included a reference to winning $1m in “just five minutes”.

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