Ofcom warns X Factor and Nokia against influencing content

The X Factor, the ITV talent show, and show sponsor Nokia have be rapped by Ofcom for sponsor references in its spin-off show The Xtra Factor. The media watchdog investigated following complaints from viewers questioning whether programme sponsor Nokia had inappropriately influenced the content of the programmes.

Nokia-branded handsets were “clearly visible” during a sketch showing judges Louis Walsh and Simon Cowell apparently trading childish insults via text message.

Channel Television, the ITV company responsible for ensuring the series complied with the Broadcast Code, told Ofcom it did not believe that the brief references to Nokia during The Xtra Factor were promotional and gave an assurance that the sponsor did not influence the programmes.

Ofcom says references to Nokia in The Text Factor sketch were in breach of Rule 9.6, which prohibits promotional references to the sponsor. It also requires non-promotional references to be incidental and editorially justified. The face of a Nokia-branded mobile phone was “clearly visible” during the sketch.

Viewers also questioned the influence of Nokia over the show after a shot of Sharon Osbourne holding a Motorola-branded phone was blurred out. The incident also was investigated by Ofcom but was cleared.

Channel Television stressed the decision to obscure the brand resulted from pressure to complete the editing and not through “ill will” towards Motorola.

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