Ad description

A TV ad for the Sky Atlantic drama "The Tunnel: Sabotage" was broadcast on ITV at 10.00 am on Sunday 3 April 2016 during the highlights of the FIA Formula E ePrix in Long Sands, America. The ad opened with an aeroplane crashing into the sea and then showed the broken fuselage. A voice-over stated, "The plane was a job. Now we have the freedom to do this." The ad showed a man with a gun pointed towards others and another man being dragged while held by a man holding a gun. The voice-over continued, "We have to shed blood. Even if it includes our own." The ad then showed a man being shot in the back and cut to two people staring towards the camera. The voice-over said, "Violence is the only way to make the world pay attention." The ad then faded to show the Sky Atlantic logo and the name of the programme.

The ad was cleared by Clearcast with an ex-kids restriction, which meant it should not be shown in or around programmes made for, specifically targeted, or likely to be of particular appeal to children.


A viewer challenged. They objected that the ad, which included the voiceover "... We have to shed blood, even if it includes our own. Violence is the only way to get attention", had been inappropriately scheduled during the day at a time when younger children were likely to see it.


ITV Broadcasting Ltd said it had extremely robust processes for identifying programmes that might have particular appeal to children and said that Formula E Highlights was obviously not a programme "… made for or specifically targeted at children …". However, to help them assess whether it was likely to be of “particular appeal” to children, they completed a complex data analysis of past, present and future programme profiles because the programme was scheduled irregularly.

ITV explained that so far in 2016, based on Broadcasters' Audience Research Board (BARB) data, the programme had not ordinarily appealed particularly to children. In addition, they provided the BARB data for the three occasions on which the programme was broadcast in 2015. That data had also shown that it was not of particular appeal to children. However, they acknowledged that when it was broadcast on 3 April, the BARB data showed that the child audience was atypically high, given the data for the five previous transmissions of the programme.

Clearcast noted the ad featured scenes of distress and violence, together with a voice-over which sounded like a young woman, who seemed to be unemotional. They believed the ad contained scary scenes which could be distressing and upsetting and therefore, unsuitable for younger children. Having considered the level of distress and violence depicted or implied in the ad, they believed an ‘ex kids’ scheduling restriction was sufficient to ensure that it was not transmitted around programmes which young children were more likely to be watching.


Not upheld

The ASA noted the ad contained a number of scenes in which people were shown, or appeared, to be in distress and some violence. We therefore considered the content of the ad was menacing and suspenseful and as such, it was unsuitable for younger children. Consequently, we considered the ex-kids scheduling restriction applied by Clearcast was appropriate, and that the ad should not have been scheduled in or around programmes which were likely to be of particular appeal to children.

We assessed the BARB data for the programme in 2015, the two occasions it had been broadcast before and the two occasions it had been broadcast after the transmission complained about (3 April). With the exception of the 3 April transmission, children made up between 7% and 13% of the audience. For that particular transmission, however, children made up 35% of the audience. Therefore, we understood that ordinarily, children did not make up a high proportion of the audience for this programme. Although we noted the large number of children watching the 3 April transmission, we were not aware of any foreseeable factor which would have led to a high proportion of children watching the programme on that particular day. Notwithstanding the data for 3 April transmission, which appeared to be an isolated incident, we considered that the ad had not been scheduled for broadcast during a programme that would have particular appeal to children. Therefore, we concluded the ad had not been inappropriately scheduled.

We investigated the scheduling of ad under BCAP Code rules  5.1 5.1 Advertisements that are suitable for older children but could distress younger children must be sensitively scheduled (see Section 32: Scheduling).
 (Children),  32.1 32.1 Broadcasters must exercise responsible judgement on the scheduling of advertisements and operate internal systems capable of identifying and avoiding unsuitable juxtapositions between advertising material and programmes, especially those that could distress or offend viewers or listeners.  (Scheduling of television and radio advertisements) and  32.3 32.3 Relevant timing restrictions must be applied to advertisements that, through their content, might harm or distress children of particular ages or that are otherwise unsuitable for them.  (Under 16s), but did not find it in breach.


No further action necessary.


32.1     32.3     5.1    

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