1 February 2013

Surreptitious advertising by Holy Men on Channel i

On 27 Jan 2013, Channel i - Sky Channel 844 - 5pm to 1am aired a programme called "Journey of a Life Time". This was nothing more that a mega "infomercial" for a commercial tour organisation called Bismillah Hajj The communication below with the programme makers and the video explains it all. Needless to say a complaint has been submitted to Ofcom.


Subject: Advertising tour to Al Aqsa on Channel i on 27/01/13
To: info@hefazotheislamuk.org

Dear Sir

You replied to my text, where I put it to you that you are advertising during programming on TV.

You replied saying there is no sale going on rather a charitable organisation doing an awareness of the tour package and that all donation will go to Boruna Madrasa. You also gave this email for me to write back.

I draw your attention to section 9.3 to 9.5 of Ofcom rules at http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/broadcasting/broadcast-codes/broadcast-code/commercial-references-television/

9.3 Surreptitious advertising is prohibited.

Meaning of "surreptitious advertising":
Surreptitious advertising involves a reference to a product, service or trade mark within a programme, where such a reference is intended by the broadcaster to serve as advertising and this is not made clear to the audience. Such advertising is likely to be considered intentional if it occurs in return for payment or other valuable consideration to the broadcaster or producer.
9.4 Products, services and trade marks must not be promoted in programming.

For specific exemptions to this rule, see rules on premium rate services (Rules 9.26 to 9.30) and rules on programme-related material (Rules 9.31 and 9.32).
9.5 No undue prominence may be given in programming to a product, service or trade mark. Undue prominence may result from:

  • the presence of, or reference to, a product, service or trade mark in programming where there is no editorial justification; or
  • the manner in which a product, service or trade mark appears or is referred to in programming.

You are breaching all three of the above rules by:

1. Surreptitious - meaning "obtained, done, made, etc., by stealth; secret or unauthorized; clandestine: a surreptitious glance." You are advertising Bismillah Hajj (www.bismillah-hajj.com) in a secretive way so as it is not obvious to the viewer at first glance at the programme. You think by doing this you can hide from the fact that you are breaching broadcasting rules?

2. Your presenter at one point was hesitant to give the tour details by saying he is not allowed on air but prompted the caller to call the hotline and to visit the Bismillah Hajj website, where full details of the tour will be given. The poor lady probably don't know how to get the on the web! So she persisted and asked for the tour price at which point your presenter stated £1650! Bingo! Advertisement!

3. Your presenter stated that the cost per person depends on how many people "confirm" they will go on the tour (viewers who call in)!

How can you say the above is not advertisement? A documentary does not last the whole evening. You are in fact spending the evening to get as many viewers to "confirm" they will go on the tour via Bismillah Hajj. You like the word "donation" don't you? You think by saying donations will go to a madrsa somehow should make all this OK?

There are ways to take people on this sort of religious tours, but not by breaching broadcasting rules, especially when you know you are. By doing this you lose credibility and give people who look outwardly religious a bad name. I would not be surprised if the presenter and the guests are not somehow linked to the Bismillah Hajj and Hefazothe Islam UK and benefit financially from this advertisement. In fact the presenter is featured in the documentary which was based on on the previous tour.

I could go on, but as I said, I have made a recording of the whole programme and will make a formal complaint to Ofcom. You can explain to them.

Rules and laws are there for a reason. This is such a shameful behavior and reflects badly on Bengalis and Muslims. You may have got away with breaking the rules in Bangladesh but NOT here.

O, how it breaks my heart when you make a documentary on Al Aqsa but don't mention the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Palestine. They've suffered for over 60 years and now you want to make a tidy profit from tourism. You spineless cowards.

Shame on you.

Your crookedness will be blogged here http://the-radical-truth.blogspot.co.uk/ and video of your presenter's deception posted on YouTube

God help us all from all sources of deceptions.

Bismillah Hajj 

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