The station yesterday ran several ads promoting a tarot card-reading service called 7th Sense, despite a BCC ruling that such commercials were in breach of broadcasting legislation.
7th Sense is the sponsor of TV’3 Ireland AM — the popular three-hour breakfast show hosted by Mark Cagney and Maura Derrane which runs Monday to Friday. Although TV3 declined to reveal the value of the sponsorship, it is estimated to be an annual six-figure sum.
The BCC upheld a complaint that such ads were prohibited as they were advertising fortune-telling services.
The sponsor is likely to seek a cancellation or revaluation of the sponsorship on the basis that it can no longer promote its services on TV.
The BCC said it had notified its decision to the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland which has responsibility for monitoring the compliance of independent TV and radio stations with broadcasting legislation.
A BCI spokeswoman admitted that it had previously taken the view that advertisements for services offering fortune-telling services were permissible as they were designed for entertainment purposes.
However, she acknowledged that the latest BCC ruling would mean that such commercials were now in breach of broadcasting legislation.
The BCI said it had drafted a letter, which would be sent to all stations, advising them that such commercials were banned.
However, the spokeswoman said stations would be given a short period of grace over the transmission of such ads in order to allow them to alter their advertising schedules.
“We would expect that all the ads will have been stopped by the end of the month,” she added.
A spokeswoman for TV3 defended yesterday’s use of the ad for 7th Sense, claiming it had no information that it should be banned.
However, the station later confirmed that it was aware of the BCC ruling. The spokesperson said TV3 would be in contact with the BCC, advertisers and sponsors to discuss the situation but promised that all 7th Sense ads would be withdrawn by next Monday.
“There is a sponsorship element involved and, as such, the sponsorship will simply be replaced by something else, which is normal practice,” she added.
The 7th Sense Tarot is a premium rate phone service run by a company called Interactive Voice Technologies in Blackrock, Co Dublin. It operates several other similar services, including Betto and Big Six, as well as other telecom services such as Air Talk and Real Tones.
Ads promoting the tarot reading service appear at the beginning and end of many commercial breaks on TV3. They also contain the message that 7th Sense is the sponsor of Ireland AM.
A spokesperson for Interactive Voice Technologies was not available for comment.