Channel 4 slapped on wrist for spanked bottoms ad

Channel 4 has been reprimanded by the advertising watchdog for broadcasting an ad that featured naked bottoms being hit with a stick, projectile vomiting and other “inappropriate” acts when children were likely to be watching.


The ad for the comedy film “21 & Over” (classified 15) broadcast at 7.45pm during Channel 4’s network premiere for the 2010 version of the film “Gulliver’s Travels” (classified PG). The ad was cleared by Clearcast with an ex-kids scheduling restriction given the film’s 15-rated classification.

Channel 4 said because no previous viewing data was held for “Gulliver’s Travels”, it based its scheduling restrictions on audience data from a previous transmission of the film “School of Rock”, which also features actor Jack Black as the lead character, was transmitted at a similar time and was viewed by a high number of 10- to 15-year-olds.

The broadcaster admitted on this occasion its scheduler “inadvertently” applied a lesser restriction to the ad. Subsequent viewing data found “Gulliver’s Travels” had an even younger audience profile compared with “School of Rock” and Channel 4 said any repeat broadcast of the former film would carry full restrictions.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it was “concerned” Channel 4 had initially applied a lesser restriction to the ad, which meant it was “inappropriately” viewed by a young audience and ruled the spot must not be broadcast in or adjacent to programmes likely to appeal to children below the age of 16 in future.

Channel 4 was forced to put “additional safeguards in place” just a few weeks ago to prevent alcohol ads appearing in the ad breaks of programmes likely to appeal to children after it was reprimanded by the ASA on three accounts for breaking scheduling restrictions. Elsewhere, rival broadcaster ITV was also admonished by the ASA for a scheduling error this week.

Research data from Ofcom found alcohol ads appeared in a number of episodes of “You’ve Been Framed” on ITV2 and ITV2+1 between 6pm and 8.59pm.

ITV said its audience data “fluctuated wildly” for the programme but when measured over a period of time, children were not over-represented compared with the audience as a whole. In March it decided it “appropriate” and “in the spirit of the [advertising] code” to partially restrict alcohol ads in “You’ve Been Framed” to post-8pm on weekends, bank holidays and over the Easter period given the number of children likely to be watching at this time.

The ASA did not consider that action was sufficient to ensure compliance and told ITV2 to ensure it reviews series data on a regular basis and acts upon changes in its audience index when children were likely to make up the majority of those viewing its programmes.

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