ITV warned over celeb endorsement

Cilla BlackITV has pledged to review its celebrity interviewing guidelines on flagship breakfast show This Morning, after viewers complained that an interview with Cilla Black endorsed her new psychic phone line service.

Media regulator Ofcom has not censured the broadcaster but it has been warned about the need to keep advertising and editorial separate under European rules.

Black was interviewed on February 14 as part of a Valentine’s Day special. ITV says there were strong editorial reasons for inviting her to discuss her connection with the pyschic dating service: the former Blind Date presenter was well known for talking about relationships; the business was being launched on the same day and This Morning often tackles psychic subject matter.

ITV says both Black and her advisor were fully briefed beforehand. It accepted that it was “unfortunate” that the guest referred to the brand name of the service and website address “in a matter over and beyond that discussed prior to the programme”. But it says presenters were reminded not to reference the brand repeatedly in the remainder of the interview.

Ofcom says: “[Brand] references could reasonably have given viewers the impression that the programme was endorsing the phone line service”, which was not consistent with the Broadcasting Code. However, it welcomed ITV’s assurances that it was reviewing its procedures and considers the matter resolved.

Separately, Ofcom has today (12 May) resolved a complaint against Channel 4 for a promotional trailer using a clip of chef Gordon Ramsay describing a performance as “fucking brilliant”, two minutes after the 9pm watershed and without warning. Channel 4 says it was advised that the trailer should only be transmitted after both the watershed and a warning for strong language but had failed to do so due to “human error”.

Ofcom says that the broadcaster has also introduced a new system to record advice to trail producers and considers the matter resolved.

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