24 March 2013

Channel i in trouble over “political” advertisements

It was just under a year when I made complaints to Ofcom about political advertisement on Channel i. After a long investigation Ofcom has found this channel in breech of several rules and put them on notice that further breech will result in fines. Lets hope Channel i has learned a lesson.

Some of the political parties and groups featured were:

  • the Bangladesh Nationalist Party1;
  • the London Mohanagar Chhatra League (the London branch of the student wing of the Awami League2);
  • the Jubo League (the youth wing of the Awami League);
  • Faruk Ahmed (of the Awami League);
  • M A Malek (of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party);
  • the Bangladesh Awami League; and
  • the Awami League, UK.
Some of the wordings used in the adverts were:

1. “A discussion meeting on the event of the Historic Mujibnagar3 Day and demanding the judicial trial of the war criminals4 has been arranged by a joint enterprise of the Cardiff City Jubo League and Bangabandhu Parishod.” (Item featuring the Cardiff City Jubo League)

2. “An effective council of Bangladesh Nationalist Party in Scotland has been established to materialize the ideals of martyr Zia5, strengthen the hands of uncompromising leader Begum Khaleda Zia6 and to protest all the conspiracy and maligns against Tarek Zia7.” (Item featuring the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, Scotland Branch)

3. “Do not be concerned, there is no place for Razakars8 in the independent land of Bangladesh. On behalf of the all the Bangladeshi expatriates who support the independence of Bangladesh, demanding the judicial trial of the war criminals and on behalf of Leicester Awami League.” (Item featuring the Bangladesh Awami League)

4. “A Very Big Demonstration Assembly. Protesting the conceal of peoples leader M Eliyas Ali9, the unbending student leader of anti-dictatorship movement of 1990, the pride of Sylhet, also the organizational secretary of the central committee of Bangladesh Nationalist Party, president of Sylhet District BNP and a demonstrator of the Tipaimukh Dam.” (Item by Bangladesh Nationalist Party, Brescia Branch, Italy)


Ofcom has warned Bengali news and entertainment channel Channel i for broadcasting political advertisements, which are not allowed under its rules.

Ofcom examined 17 items. Each was broadcast in Bengali. The items were, like advertisements, self-contained messages produced by the person or group whose message the item conveyed.

Ofcom was told by Prime Bangla, the license holder for the channel, that the items were not in fact advertisements but were components of a programme, ‘I Focus’. Ofcom were told that this is a “community announcement programme” broadcast “to keep Bengali people aware of all community events happening in the UK or Europe”.

Prime Bangla said that it accepted no money or other consideration for broadcast of the items within I Focus.

Ofcom noted the broadcaster’s statements that it had stopped broadcasting all directly political material in ‘I Focus’ once Ofcom had raised the investigation, that it had offered its sincere apologies if the content had conflicted with any Ofcom rules, and that it had promised to implement immediately any Ofcom requirements and take all necessary action to avoid any repetition.

However, Ofcom has put Prime Bangla on notice that it would treat any similar future breaches as extremely serious, and that any future such breaches may be considered for the imposition of statutory sanctions.

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