The Chairman of the National Broadcasting Council in his decisions from November 27, 2015 fined several broadcasters in Poland for including advertising content in sponsor credits. The penalized broadcasters are some of Poland’s largest: TVN, TVN 24, TVN Style, TVP1, Polsat, TV Puls and Kuchnia+.
Everyone who enjoys a moment of relaxation in front of the TV while watching a football match, movie or TV series, is probably not a fan of TV adverts. Noisy sequences, full of flashing lights and irritating sounds are often a good reason to go for a tea break, unless the person in front of TV is an ad-freak, who likes to spend his spare time at events such as “The Night of the Ad Eaters”.
The National Broadcasting Council looks after TV viewers to make sure they are properly informed when they are encouraged in an advert to choose just one tea from that producer and when they might unwittingly be up for just that one tea – during the sponsor credits emission. After all, sponsor credits nominally should build consumer awareness rather than encourage buying certain products.
Legal rules of sponsorship of programs in Poland are listed in the Regulation of the National Broadcasting Council of July 6, 2000 concerning sponsorship of programs and other broadcasts. Sponsor credits are usually shown before the beginning of the program, after its end, and just before resuming the program after an ad break. A sponsor credit may also be included in the trailer of a program. The intent of such an emission is to communicate that an entrepreneur has signed a sponsorship deal. In addition, the broadcaster shall keep records of sponsored programs and other broadcasts.
Due to the regulation being discussed, sponsor credits may not have the nature of advertising. It cannot contain samples of sounds or pictures from the sponsor’s advertising with which the sponsor is associated and which could mislead the viewer.
Such fragments were included in sponsor credits before the programs shown by the penalized broadcasters. Examples? The name of the sponsor connected with the presentation of its advertising slogan, referring to love and beauty. Rural pictures with a happy family sitting down at the table or decorating a home for Christmas. Not forgetting about the peaceful, calm music playing in the background. What is more, several of the discussed sponsor credits contained presentations of trademarks registered by other entrepreneurs. Some of the other sponsor credits included fragments of a movie premiere – the same as presented in movie advert.
The message is clear – the viewer has to clearly differentiate between situations when he is being informed from ones when he is encouraged to buy something. He may connect the title of a favorite program with the name of its sponsor, but he cannot be encouraged to choose the products or services of that producer. If the broadcaster violates these rules, he must then take into account the penalty.
The Chairman of the National Broadcasting Council penalized broadcasters by enforcing them to pay the following amounts: TVN channels – altogether 180 000 PLN (TVN, TVN 24 and TVN Style – 60 000 PLN each), TV Puls – 50 000 PLN, TVP – 60 000 PLN, Polsat – 60 000 PLN, ITI (Kuchnia+) – 60 000 PLN. As the Chairman of the National Broadcasting Council noted, the fact that the violation of law was on nationwide channels, available without any additional charge, had influence on the rating area and degree of the violations.
It is worth noting the decision of the National Broadcasting Council seems to be a significant change in their approach of the discussed matter. Over the last couple of years, sponsor credits in Poland were becoming much and much closer to advertising. For sure, the bright idea was registering advertising slogans as trademarks, because presentation of a producer’s trademarks in sponsor credits is – in general – acceptable. Such practice, commonplace among various broadcasters, generally didn’t meet with any reaction from National Broadcasting Council. The latest decisions should make everyone in the advertising industry to understand it is high time to start thinking about sponsor credits in a more traditional way.