Sky Sports rapped for sponsoring Ashes replays

Ofcom has rapped Sky Sports for giving “undue prominence” to Specsavers’ sponsorship of the Hawk-Eye technology used in its Ashes coverage.

Ashes coverage
Sky Sport’s Ashes coverage

The broadcast regulator dismissed Sky’s argument that the technology is ‘programme-related’ material, and argued that such additions should not be sponsored.

Hawk-Eye is used in sports as a technical system to capture debatable information. In the Ashes coverage, this included the spread of shots around the wicket, the speed of the bowling, the spread of the bowling to the batsmen, and whether a ‘leg before wicket’ decision is likely to be correct.

Sky had suggested that Hawk-Eye was open to commercial branding, in the same way that scoreboards and timing devices often are. Due to Specsavers sponsoring the technology, the high street optician’s logo was briefly displayed whenever Hawk-Eye was used.

However, Ofcom deemed that the technology is used to “enhance the viewing experience”, and is therefore part of the programme itself, meaning that it should not be sponsored, but paid for using part of the production budget.

Ofcom added that it refused to accept Sky’s argument in case other broadcasters tried to sponsor sports production techniques in a similar way.

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