Ofcom has ordered ITV to remove an ad which promotes a public poll being held to gauge opinion about the proposed transport plan for Manchester, which includes the controversial congestion charge. The regulator found that it breached TV ad regulations on political advertising.
Ofcom says it received seven complaints about the ad, which it was already investigating before it was broadcast. The ad was shown on ITV1’s Granada region, which covers the Manchester area.
The ad, based on the proposed transport plan for Greater Manchester, which includes the introduction of congestion charging, was found to breach the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice’s Television Advertising Code which prohibits political advertising.
The Code prohibits the broadcast of advertisements that may be directed towards a political end; and also prohibits ads that show partiality in respect to matters of political or industrial controversy or relating to current public policy.
The ad featured a presenter in a studio referring to the poll and summarising the consequences of “yes” and “no” outcomes. During the advertisement, a call to action to vote, the name and logo for Greater Manchester Future Transport (GMFT), and its website address were prominently displayed. Complainants argued that the ad was biased to the “yes” vote.
ITV says it broadcast the ad in good faith, having received clearance from Clearcast, the body that advises on advertising scripts and films before production and transmission. However, ITV says it removed the ad from air when it was notified of Ofcom’s investigation.