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X Factor Breaches Broadcasting Code

31 January 2011

When Dermot O’Leary prompted viewers to download singles of Diana Vickers and Michael Buble on the X Factor last October Ofcom decided to investigate. Despite accepting that this was due to a script error, the media watchdog was concerned that this had happened on two separate occasions and found that the X Factor had breached rule 10.3, ‘products or services must not be promoted in programmes’.

There is a further rule in the Broadcasting Code which prohibits product placement. However X Factor did not breach this rule as product placement would involve a reference to a product in exchange for valuable consideration. There was no financial arrangement in place here.

Interestingly, on 28 February 2011 new rules will come into effect which will subject to exceptions permit product placement in UK TV programmes. Despite this the new rules would not change the outcome for X Factor. This is because the new rules will still not allow positive references to products which directly encourage purchases.

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