ITC fines MTV Europe £40,000 for breaching free publicity rules

MTV Networks Europe has been fined £40,000 by the Independent Television Commission (ITC) after it gave too much free on-air publicity to theme park Alton Towers, the donor of a competition prize.

Presenters of an MTV video request programme called Select made several scripted references to Alton Towers, where only one mention is allowed.

The “Scarily Big Hits” weekend programming also made an “unjustifiable number” of references to Alton Towers as well as showing clips of rides and an animated logo.

The ITC, the TV watchdog, ruled that there had been breaches of its programme code and code of programme sponsorship. In the light of other breaches by MTV, the ITC judged there was a continuing failing in this area and that it had to fine the station.

An ITC spokesman says: “The commission wants to ensure that there is no commercial influence on programming, that licensees retain full editorial control, and that programmes do not contain any unjustifiable references to branded products or services.”

MTV insisted that although Alton Towers was one of its advertisers, there had been no commercial arrangement for the weekend’s programming.

The station said it was recruiting an extra compliance officer and was giving its staff more training in this area.

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