Monday, October 11 2010,
BroadcastingOfcom has cleared a government climate change advert, despite acknowledging that it came close to the "limits of acceptability" for public service campaigns.
The 'bedtime stories' campaign, launched last year by the Department for Energy and Climate Change, featured a father reading his young daughter a story using an illustrated children's book that showed images of floods, droughts and other climate problems.
The media regulator received 537 complaints about the "political" nature of the ad, with some describing it as "government propaganda" and "cynical political manipulation".
Under the Communication Act, the government is permitted to run public service advertising, but is not allowed to broadcast political messages that could "influence public opinion on a matter of public controversy".
However, the legislation does allow exceptions for adverts of a "public service nature", such as recruitment for the armed forces or road safety campaigns.
Despite accepting that the 'bedtime stories' ad came "close to the limits of acceptability" in crossing from public service message to political advertising, Ofcom opted to dismiss the complaints.
The regulator acknowledged the "ongoing and polarised" debate on climate change, but said that there is a "broad level of consensus across the major political parties".
Ofcom noted that the nature and extent of information in the advert was "relatively limited", such as what action viewers could take, but it offered just enough to be cleared of representing direct political advertising.
"On balance, Ofcom decided that the inclusion of the image of the young girl turning off a light switch, and the message at the end of the advertisement providing viewers with a further source of information about specific actions they could take was adequate to merit the advertisement being classed as of a public service nature," said Ofcom.
In March, the Advertising Standards Authority dismissed around 1,000 complaints about the 'bedtime stories' TV advert, but did ban two press ads from the campaign.
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