ITV1’s The X Factor was today criticised for breaching product placement rules after presenter Dermot O’Leary appeared to encourage viewers to download songs by guest acts Diana Vickers and Michael Bublé.
Ofcom investigated the Simon Cowell talent show over concerns that O’Leary told viewers they could download singles by the two singers on the official X Factor website.
Programme-makers blamed the references, which they admitted were “inappropriate”, to “an unfortunate script error”.
This mistake was initially not spotted in the episode broadcast on 17 October last year when O’Leary said: “If you want to download Diana’s single, details at itv.com/xfactor.”
The same script was used as a basis for the 24 October programme, when O’Leary said: “If you want to download Michael’s single, all the details on itv.com/xfactor”.
It was during the second broadcast that the error was noticed and the script was corrected for future shows.
Producers said The X Factor website contained no information on downloading its guest artists’ songs and that the tracks were not available to download there.
But Ofcom found the programme in breach of section 10.3 of the broadcasting code, which states that “products and services must not be promoted in programmes”.
The regulator said: “While we understand that the comments resulted from an error, we were concerned that the programmes appeared to promote the availability of the artists’ singles on two separate, scripted occasions.”
Programme-makers said that there had been no arrangement in place with music download services. As a result, The X Factor did not breach section 10.5 of the code on product placement.
The X Factor was also criticised by Ofcom for failing to curb the use of flashing lights during a performance by Cheryl Cole on 24 October last year.
Certain types of flashing images can trigger seizures in viewers who are susceptible to photosensitive epilepsy (PSE). It was the second time the programme has been criticised for the use of flashing flights.
This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.