A direct mailing for Sky TV bundles was headed "Brand new Sky Bundles … Award-winning TV that revolves around you from £21.50 a month". The ad detailed the four bundle options and further text stated "Your bundle comes loaded with Free award-winning Sky+HD box, Catch Up TV, Exclusive Sky Go". A logo next to "Catch Up TV" included text that stated "On Demand". Further text stated "Get even more Add free broadband". Text at the bottom of the ad included "Broadband connection required". Small print at the bottom of the ad included "Sky Broadband: Monthly usage cap: Lite - 2GB … On Demand/Catch Up: Downloads count towards any usage cap. Downloading a 30 minute show typically uses 0.5GB".
BT challenged whether the ad was misleading, because they did not believe it made sufficiently clear that taking the free broadband would significantly limit the amount of catch up TV content that customers could view.
British Sky Broadcasting Ltd t/a Sky (Sky) said they did not believe the ad was misleading. They said their bundles included some Catch Up content that was sent to the Sky boxes by satellite, and so would not require a broadband connection to download, and that further Catch Up content was available for customers to download via their broadband on demand. They said that approximately 30 hours of Catch Up content were provided via satellite each month, and that for some bundle types the figure was higher. They did not believe the reference to "Catch Up" would be understood by consumers to mean that all content was available. They did not agree that taking the free broadband would significantly limit the amount of catch up content that customers could view, and said it would in fact increase the amount of Catch Up content that a customer could access, compared to a customer who either did not have broadband or chose not to connect their Sky box to broadband. They believed the free broadband was presented as an additional option that a customer could consider and that it was not presented as part of the TV bundles. They believed that consumers would expect there to be usage limitations with a free broadband product and that these were set out clearly in the small print of the ad. They said that if a consumer wished to download more content that the example given in the small print they could choose a different Sky broadband product or use a different broadband provider.
The ad referred to "Catch Up TV" being included with the Sky TV bundles. The ASA considered that, in the absence of a clear qualification stating that it was a reference to selected content only, consumers would understand "Catch Up TV" to refer to the ability to download programmes of their choosing from the various catch-up services offered by different channels. The logo next to "Catch Up TV" also included text that stated "On Demand" which we considered consumers would understand to be a reference to being able to download any of the available content, rather than being limited to selected content only. Although Sky said that it was not necessary for customers to connect their Sky box to broadband we noted the ad stated "Broadband connection required" and we understood that, to fully utilise the Catch Up TV service, consumers would need to have broadband and that without this they would be limited to the selected content only. In this context we considered it was significant material information and that by choosing the "free broadband" offered would significantly limit the amount of Catch Up content that could be downloaded extra to the selected content provided by Sky, compared to those with a broadband package that had a download limit more suited to downloading TV programmes or films. We considered that the reference to "free broadband" should have been more prominently qualified with a reference to the fact it was a package with a 2 GB limit and therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. (Misleading advertising) and 3.10 3.10 Qualifications must be presented clearly.
CAP has published a Help Note on Claims that Require Qualification. (Qualification).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Sky to ensure that qualifications to "free broadband" offers were sufficiently prominent in future.