OfcomOfcom has today imposed a financial penalty of £30,000 on Biditis Limited in respect of its service Al-Alamia TV – a London-based Arab culture and entertainment channel which broadcasts in Arabic and English.

This penalty follows the broadcast of four episodes of the programme Miss Arab London 2011 on the 7th, 14th, 21st and 29th of October 2011, which featured a beauty pageant of the same name. The programmes invited viewers to vote for their favourite contestant via a premium rate text message. The programmes also contained segments about a number of businesses which the contestants had visited.

The regulator found the programmes breached eight Broadcasting Code rules relating to the conduct of viewer voting and the inclusion of commercial references. These included fair competitions and voting, not being misled about competitions, products, and services must not be promoted and references to placed products must not be promotional.”

Ofcom also found that Biditis Limited had breached a Television Licensable Content Service condition:

“Where the Licensee uses a Controlled Premium Rate Service as defined under the PRS Condition in force at the time made under section 120 of the Communications Act 2003 as the method of communication for voting or competitions publicised within programme time, the Licensee shall ensure that its compliance procedures include a system of verification by an appropriate independent third party…”.

Ofcom considered that these breaches were serious and therefore decided that a financial penalty should be imposed, the fine was announced today, the original report into the breaches were announced last July.

[Reported by Neil Lang]

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