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30/07/2001

ITC FINE LWT £100,000

The ITC have announced a financial penalty of £100,000 on licensee London Weekend Television (LWT) for breaches of the ITC Code of Programme Sponsorship in the series ‘Club@vision’.
The series, which was shown late at night across the ITV network, was aimed at young people and regularly included club features, with music videos, charts and celebrity interviews. It was produced by an independent production company and commissioned by ITV as a co-production with LWT.
In February 2000, the ITC received a complaint that clubs were being asked to pay a fee and contribute to production expenses to ensure inclusion in the programme. On raising this issue with LWT, the licensee immediately removed the programme from the schedules.
Following an enquiry, it emerged that an event promoter, working on behalf of the production company producing the programme (although there was no written contract), contacted clubs.
The ITC's investigation revealed that several club owners contacted confirmed that they had paid fees and expenses to the promoter, ranging from £500 upwards. Others claimed that they had declined to make any payment and had not appeared in the programme.
It was established that the promoter drew up a shortlist of clubs for possible inclusion in the programme, and the production company made the final selection. Some clubs appearing on the shortlist and subsequently in the programme did not pay a fee. However, the ITC's investigation failed to find a single incident of a club willing to pay a fee to the promoter not appearing on the shortlist submitted to the production company and, subsequently, in the programme. Documentation indicates that a substantial number of clubs believed payment of fees and/or expenses was a pre-requisite to being included in the programme.
It was concluded that a fine of £100,000 was appropriate, given the serious and long-running nature of the Code breach, and the importance the ITC places on protecting the editorial integrity of programmes from commercial influence. The ITC considered LWT should have been more rigorous in its management of the production across a number of editions of ‘Club@vision’.
However, the ITC also recognised that LWT had not been made aware of the nature of the relationship between the production company and the promoter and LWT's compliance record has in other respects been good in recent years. (CD)
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