Sunday, 22 February 2009

Beeb series gets more bizarre

Who is in charge of
BBC2 drinks series?

A footnote to my piece on Oz and James Drink to Britain. After many phone calls, in which I attempted to discover why any reference to CAMRA had been removed from the episode screened on 10 February, the BBC finally passed me on to RDFMedia, the independent production company that made the series. RDF told me they were governed by Ofcom rules. The BBC does not come within the remit of Ofcom, which only governs productions by independent radio and television companies. But because RDF may sell the series on to other independent channels, Oz and James does come within Ofcom's remit.
Ofcom rules firmly oppose "product placement" -- of which more later -- and say that there should not be undue prominence given to organisations in programmes. However, the rules add, if an organisation is not named in a programme, it should be given a credit at the end.
CAMRA is not a commercial organisation. It was not named in the programme as the organiser of a beer festival, and it was not given a credit at the end of the episode. In the same episode, Gwatkin's cider company was named and a bottle of Gwatkins' Perry was shown in close up. This surely amounts to product placement.
A week later, in the episode screened on 17 February, Oz and James were shown enjoying pints outside a pub in Cornwall. The pub was not named -- it was the Blisland Inn -- but our heroes were several times shown holding pint glasses with the prominenet name of Tribute to the camera. So no mention of the pub but a good plug for the St Austell brewery's flagship brand.
This is known as product placement and breaches Ofcom rules.


Blogger Johnny Norfolk said...

As I say its double standards all the way. Perhaps there are other reasons why some things are shown and others not.
If a programme is shot in a pub or brewery, they should tell you what where it is, its all so silly and childish.thats the media.

22 February 2009 at 23:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ofcom's rule on "undue prominence" (Section 5 of the Broadcasting Code 2008) includes several "get outs" that would apply to a show such as Oz & James Drive Britain To Drink.

1) The rule only applies to "news". This is not a "news" programme.

2) The rule does not apply to shows clearly presented as personal opinion. This is clearly presented as the personal opinions of Clarke & May.

3) The rule applies across an entire series, not to single episodes. As individual brands do not have "undue prominence" across the entire series but merely feature in individual episodes, a balance is maintained.

Therefore, this ruling on Camra and others is obviously nonsense. I wonder what the real agenda was?

23 February 2009 at 17:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, meant to add that Section
7.9 of the Ofcom code states:

"Before broadcasting a factual programme, including programmes examining past events, broadcasters should take reasonable care to satisfy themselves that material facts have not been presented, disregarded or omitted in a way that is unfair to an individual or organisation"

Surely the fact that the beer festival was organised by Camra was material to the show, and its omission was unfair to that organisation?

Rather than complying with Ofcom, it appears to me that the production company has deliberately broached the Broadcasting Code.

Will you be making a complaint to Ofcom, Roger, or alerting Camra to this situation?

23 February 2009 at 17:29  

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