, Breached Ad Rules With Web Links

Ofcom has ruled a tie-up between ITV’s GMTV With Lorraine show and consumer advocate Martin Lewis promoted Lewis’ own site in breach of rule 10.3 of its Broadcasting Code.

The regulator had heard a complaint from a viewer about a segment in the show, Deals Of The Week, in which Lewis gave viewers tips on consumer deals, including gym memberships and restaurant bookings.

Lewis had said on camera that vouchers for the deals were available “all on GM.TV”. But Ofcom says viewers, to get full details, had to click through to Lewis’ own, which has become amongst the UK’s most popular pro-consumer sites and forums…

The viewer had claimed is a “sales business” and therefore stood to gain from the hyperlinks which followed the on-air references.

According to Ofcom’s adjudication…

“GMTV believed that to suggest the ‘thrust’ of the item was to direct viewers to and ultimately was inaccurate and disingenuous … GMTV also expressed concern that, should a web reference of the sort at issue be judged to amount to a breach of the Code, this would eliminate a source of information which GMTV believes is of great value to, and greatly valued by, its viewers.

“GMTV believed that the logical conclusion of such a finding of a breach of Rule 10.3 in this case would appear to prevent GMTV listing stockists or providers of goods or services online.”

GMTV had also countered that is only a sales business insofar as it takes banner ads: “GMTV submitted that if it was the case that this website required a subscription, there would be no link or reference to it on”

Ofcom accepted that GMTV was editorially justified to give information about reviewed products on its own website, but…

“The GMTV website did not provide viewers with direct access to the vouchers. Instead viewers who accessed the programme website to obtain the vouchers in fact had to follow a further weblink to a third party website – the guest