In my morning perusal of the newspapers the other week I came across an article saying that the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the UK’s independent regulator for advertising in the media, has banned two film (movie) trailers for the movie The Mechanic, one of which was aired during the show Glee.
The ASA has a co-regulatory relationship with the Offices of Communication (OfCom) and works to regulate advertisers by implementing Advertising Codes. Broadcasters are required to adhere to these Codes and comply with any rulings from the ASA as part of their licensing agreement with OfCom. Generally, this agreement works on a chummy basis. However, should the broadcaster fail to comply with any rulings, the ASA may refer them to OfCom for further regulatory action, such as having their licenses revoked or subjecting them to fines.
In this case, the offending trailers for The Mechanic resulted in 13 complaints and the content was splendidly and graphically reported by the Independent newspaper. I, and my weak stomach here, will simply refer to the trailer as heebie-jeebie-inducing gruesomeness. The basis of the complaints was that the “stream of violent imagery” was likely to offend and distress some viewers. This was particularly likely as, even though the trailer was aired after the 9pm watershed, a trailer was shown during the ”cult teen dance show” Glee, with a high proportion of viewers under the age of 16 years likely to be watching. (A quick note on the watershed: programmes scheduled to air prior to the 9pm watershed must be geared towards family viewing. After this time it is the parents’ responsibility to regulate the television use of younger viewers. A word to the wise for U.S. parents: never ever let a Brit fresh off the boat supervise your child with a TV in the house. It is highly likely they will think that any horror movie shown prior to 9pm has been edited to be suitable for viewing by children. By the time they realize this is not the case, your kids will have nightmares for at least a week).
The end result of this case was that the ASA determined that the complaints they received could not be resolved by rescheduling the ads and therefore they should therefore be withdrawn from transmission completely.