Oz Regulator Slaps Network Ten's Wrist for Subliminal Ad Breach

09 October 2008

SYDNEY: Australia's Network Ten has been adjudged guilty of 'coming the raw prawn' with the Australian Communications and Media Authority or - in less colourful vernacular - running a series of unlawful subliminal ads during its broadcast of the 2007 Australian Recording Industry Association Music Awards last year.

During the roll-call of nominated artists for the show, Network Ten flashed quick one-frame bursts of sponsor logos, which included Chupa Chups, Big W, Olay, Telstra Bigpond, KFC and Toyota.

The Australian Broadcasting Commission's Media Watch ad-filtering program spotted the breach and ACMA subsequently received several complaints.

These were upheld, ruling that the "rapid-cut graphics used in the program was a technique that attempted to convey information to viewers below or near the threshold of normal awareness''. 

Ten claimed the rapid-cut graphics were intended to be creatively consistent with the fast-paced look and feel of the music presentations – an argument that failed to impress ACMA.

But not a single cent was wrung from the broadcaster as a result of its misdemeanour. Instead Ten's wrist was soundly slapped and it was told not to do it again.

Said the watchdog on Wednesday: "ACMA considers this action as proportionate given that this is the first breach of this kind by the licensee." today.

Then it got all stern: "ACMA forewarns the industry that a future breach will result in significantly heightened compliance measures."

Data sourced from Sydney Morning Herald; additional content by WARC staff