21 April 2019
TVB has come under fire for product placement during a TV awards show in December last year. Photos: HKEJ,
TVB has come under fire for product placement during a TV awards show in December last year. Photos: HKEJ,

TVB fined for indirect advertising during awards show

The Communications Authority (CA) has handed a fine of HK$150,000 to Television Broadcasts Ltd. (TVB) for indirect advertising during an annual awards show aired late last year.

The regulator said it received complaints from the public against product placement by TVB Jade channel on December 13 during the “TV Awards Presentation 2015″ show (萬千星輝頒獎典禮2015).

During the telecast, TVB aired a clip that showed its artists eating fried chicken and beverages out of containers that clearly the displayed the brand name and logo of a fast-food chain.

The clip, which lasted about one minute and 12 seconds, was seen as an indirect promotion for KFC, one of the sponsors of the show.

Announcing the fine Tuesday, the CA said it found no editorial justification for TVB to run the footage, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.

Airing a clip that showed a group of well-groomed actors and actresses eating fried chicken, with the program hosts praising the food and repeatedly calling it a “good treat”, was inappropriate, the regulator said, adding that it amounted to blatant promotion of a sponsor’s products.

As it is not the first time that TVB has violated the ordinance related to the General Code of Practice of Television, a stiff fine was warranted, the CA said.

Responding to the ruling, TVB issued a statement late Tuesday, calling the regulator’s conclusion on indirect advertising in the program “unreasonable and erroneous”.

The TV station said it had received two conflicting rulings on indirect advertising from CA.

One case pertained to a clip that showed artists eating pizza during the “TVB 48th Anniversary Gala” (萬千星輝賀台慶) show on November 19, 2015, while the other related to consumption of fried chicken during the Dec. 13 TV awards show, it said.

TVB said the presentation in both cases was identical, but the ruling on the fried chicken was a fine of HK$150,000 while the complaint related to pizza was found unjustified.

The broadcaster said it has “no choice but to seek a court interpretation by way of judicial review” on CA’s latest ruling, as the watchdog “has been adopting an inconsistent and arbitrary approach in enforcing the provisions of the codes governing indirect advertising and product placement”.

TVB also said that it has been requesting the CA to review the inconsistent yardstick for some time, but has not had any success.

Responding to the criticism, the CA said its rulings were not contradictory, but were instead based on the content and nature of the programs under assessment.

It said it had invited TVB twice to submit suggestions regarding the General Code of Practice of Television but has never heard back from the TV station.

It is deeply regrettable that TVB has decided to initiate legal proceedings, the regulator said, adding that it will respond according to its existing procedures.

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