* Exclusive: The Australian Communications and Media Authority has found Network TEN in breach of the Code of Practice for advertiser logos flashed during the broadcast of the 2007 ARIA Awards.
TEN was found to have flashed images of logos –including Chupa Chups, KFC, Toyota, BigPond and Olay – below or near the threshold of normal awareness, during its nominations packages.
Last year the ABC’s Media Watch criticised the frames it said flashed at 1/25th of a second. Viewers also complained about what they dubbed “subliminal advertising.”
TEN denied it was subliminal or near-subliminal and said its rapid-cut editing was creative and within the boundaries of the Code of Practice. “Claims that our ARIA’s nominations packages included subliminal or near-subliminal advertising are incorrect,” said Margaret Fearn, TEN’s Head of Corporate Communications said at the time.
ACMA found otherwise, noting the messages were indeed below normal awareness, and further, that it was not done reasonably. It found 12 segments which breached the Code, including 23 occasions in which a logo appeared for one frame only.
In its application to ACMA, TEN further contested that the logos for sponsors rapid-cut into nominations were accompanied by a smaller, more prominent logo for each package. It said the rapid edits were designed to match the “mash up” feel of music video clips, and defended that any use message transmitted near or below the threshold of normal awareness was unintentional.
ACMA also found the use of a commercial logo was inconsistent with TEN’s claim it was artistic work. In fact it went as far as to say sponsor logos interrupted artistic work, and found their use was for commercial purposes.
ACMA did not accept the use of logos was an honest mistake, citing that editors inserted them with “considerable precision.”
It concluded TVQ, TEN, ATV and ADS breached the Code of Practice.
TEN screens the 2008 ARIA Awards on Sunday October 19.
Updated: * Since TV Tonight published this story ACMA has now updated its website.
In response to the breach findings, Network TEN will:
* distribute the investigation report to relevant production staff (both in-house and external) to ensure that future productions of ARIA Awards are consistent with ACMA’s view;
* not use the same rapid cut use of sponsor logos for the upcoming 2008 ARIA Music Awards;
* use the finding as an example in regular code training sessions with staff, to ensure future compliance; and
* highlight the code clause in their external production agreements.
ACMA forewarns the industry that a future breach will result in significantly heightened compliance measures.