Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Not upheld.
A radio ad for the film "Devil's Due" broadcast at 12.30 pm on Capital Radio London featured a female voice stating, "We're having a baby", followed by the sound of cheering. Another female voice continued, "Your body is going through a beautiful transformation", followed by a male voice stating, "I found these weird symbols" and the sound of a record scratching. The voice-over stated, "Nothing can prepare you" and a separate male voice then stated, "In early Christianity they could use these symbols for summoning an Anti Christ", followed by the sound of whispers in an unknown language. A female voice stated, "They are waiting", and the voice-over continued, "For a new arrival". A male voice then stated, "This is the last hour … The Anti Christ is coming" and a male voice was heard shouting, "Leave us alone", followed by a female voice screaming, "Don't touch us". There was a high-pitched sound slowly increasing in volume and the voice-over continued, "Devil's Due, in cinemas now, rated 15".
The listener challenged whether:
1. the ad, especially the vocal clips, were likely to cause distress; and
2. the ad had been scheduled inappropriately because it had been broadcast during the day and had been heard by their children.
1. & 2. The broadcaster This is Global Ltd, stated that when assessing an ad, they took into account the client, the subject and sound of the ad and any RACC clearance advice. If the ad fell into an area that needed careful scheduling around certain age groups or demographics, they consulted the Radio Joint Audience Research (RAJAR) figures and booked spots out of time slots and away from programmes that would be considered to have a high percentage of that age group listening. They said in this instance they consulted RAJAR figures to enable them to schedule the ad away from under 16s and provided those figures. They also provided RAJAR figures for 10- to 15-year-olds for the date and time that the ad had been broadcast, which showed that from 11 am to 2 pm an average of 13% of the audience were 10 to 15 years old, with 3% of the audience being 10 to 15 years old at 12.30 pm, when the complainant heard the ad. They said the youngest age that was currently included within RAJAR was 10 years old and they therefore could not provide listening figures for children under that age.
The RACC said they cleared the script with a scheduling restriction that the ad should not be broadcast when under 16-year-olds were likely to be listening, such as at breakfast, drive time, school run times and school holidays. They said they did not feel that the style and tone of the ad warranted anything more restrictive than that. They said RAJAR figures for the fourth quarter of 2013 showed that, on an average Sunday between 12.15 pm to 12.30 pm, the total reach of Capital London was 111,000 listeners and the unweighted figure for the number of listeners aged 10 to 15 during that time was 2,000.
1. Not upheld
The ASA noted that the general tone of the ad was of fear and menace, created by both the sound effects and the dialogue, but that the content of the ad did not include any explicit violence or specific threat. Although we acknowledged that some adult viewers would be unsettled or disturbed by the ads, we did not consider that the ads went beyond what viewers would normally expect from ads promoting a 15-certificate horror film and we concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause distress to adult viewers.
On this point, we investigated the ad under BCAP Code (Edition 12) rules 4.1 4.1 Advertisements must contain nothing that could cause physical, mental, moral or social harm to persons under the age of 18. and 4.10 4.10 Advertisements must not distress the audience without justifiable reason. Advertisements must not exploit the audience's fears or superstitions (Harm and offence) but did not find it in breach.
2. Not upheld
We agreed with the RACC that the ominous nature of the ad meant that it should have been scheduled away from times when under 16-year-olds were likely to be listening in order to minimise the possibility of children hearing the ad. We understood that there was only limited RAJAR information available for the numbers of children listening to the radio, but noted that This is Global had consulted RAJAR figures for the time that the ad was aired prior to scheduling the ad and those figures had shown that the under-16 segment that could be identified (children aged 10 to 15 years) comprised typically 7% of the audience. Further, we noted that RAJAR figures for the specific day and time that the ad was broadcast showed that only 3% of the listening audience were 10 to 15 years old, which we considered minimal. We concluded that the scheduling advice given by the RACC was appropriate and that it had been applied responsibly by the broadcasters, and that the ad therefore did not breach the Code.
On this point, we investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 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. 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. (Scheduling) but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.