Ofcom, the UK regulatory authority responsible for broadcast media, has sanctioned a channel available on SKY TV for some ads promoting astrology, weight loss, and a face cream. Venus TV found itself in trouble, first with the Advertising Standards Authority beginning last year, which regulates some advertising and takes care of some broadcast tv ads for Ofcom (since 2004), and now with Ofcom, for ads for Golden Bull Kastoori Capsules, Jorge Hane Weight Loss, Pandith Astrology, Pundit Maharaj astrology, and Roopamrit face cream.
The ASA investigated the health-related claims made by Healtheeze, the makers of Golden Bull Kastoori Capsules. "The ASA noted the ad stated "We make no Medical Claim". However, we also noted the ad referred to medical conditions, in particular, depression, impotency and childlessness and claimed that Golden Bull might help viewers with such conditions. We were concerned that the ad claimed the product could help with impotency, an adverse medical condition, and considered it could discourage viewers from seeking help from suitably qualified medical professionals. We were also concerned that by stating "For the health of your family - Golden Bull Kastoori Capsules", the ad implied the supplement could enhance normal, good physical condition. We concluded that the ad was in breach of the Code." Read the entire ruling here.
It investigated the claims made by the Jorge Hane Weight Loss ad and complaints by viewers. "Venus TV withdrew the infomercial and said their compliance officer had thoroughly checked it before broadcast. Venus TV maintained that the Jorge Hane Weight Loss Programme was a diet and exercise programme coupled with an all-natural dietary supplement that was "supposed to work". They submitted evidence from some clinical trials....The ASA welcomed Venus TVs assurance that the infomercial had been withdrawn. We considered that the evidence was inadequate to substantiate the claims, including the claim in the products name Fat Fast" and that it was the only weight loss product with proof that it worked. We considered that referring to clinical studies implied that the product had been properly evaluated in a placebo-controlled trial. Because we had seen no evidence of such a trial, we considered that the claims were misleading. We noted Venus TV had not obtained suitably qualified medical advice on the safety and efficacy of the product as required by rule 8.4.2."
ASA also investigated complaints about the ads for Pandith astrology and Pundit Maharaj astrology. In regard to Pandith astrology, it said: "An ad on Venus TV said and stated "meet world famous astrologer and palm reader from generations. Pandith is an expert in astrology. He can tell you about marriage, employment, family, spousal conflict, social business, financial problems, citizenship, health, wealth and exam studies. Combines the power of palmistry, clairvoyance, astrology and face-reading to give you a more complete reading. Please contact Sri Guru Poojya Vijay Sharmaji ...". On-screen text stated ... Pandith is an Expert in Astrology with 99% Accurate Results in Palmistry and also Prediction of Horoscope ... Born Gifted with Spiritual Powers let him help you to Solve your Problems with his Expert knowledge Yantrik & Mantric" over background graphics of the solar system and tarot cards....Venus TV withdrew the ad as soon as the challenges were brought to their attention. They explained that the person normally in charge of compliance had been unable to carry out the routine advertising checks. Venus TV acknowledged that someone else should have been carrying out the compliance checks in the meantime. Venus TV explained that the ad had aired in error before they received the clearance documents from the client. Venus TV added that the ad would not be shown until they had received them....The ASA welcomed Venus TVs assurance that the ad had been withdrawn. The CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code prohibits advertising for products or services within the recognized character of the occult. Note 4 of section 10.3 The occult, psychic practices and exorcism explains that that includes personal astrology readings and palmistry. We considered that the ad promoted a palm readers services. We concluded that the ad was for an unacceptable category....The Code also prohibits (with certain exceptions) commercial services offering advice on personal or consumer problems. We considered that the services referred to in the claim He can tell you about marriage, employment, family, spousal conflict, social business, financial problems, citizenship, health, wealth & exam studies" fell within that prohibition. We concluded that the ad was for an unacceptable category....We noted Venus TV had submitted no evidence to substantiate the claim. We considered that the claim was misleading." Read the entire ruling on Pandith astrology here.
With regard to the Pundit Maharaj astrology ad, the ASA found that, "Hindi and English versions of an ad for Pundit Maharaj aired on Venus TV. The voice-over said "Pundit Maharaj established since 1952 in England. Numerous successful clients all over the world. For more information please call 07974 XXXXX or log on to www.punditjimaharaj.com." The ad featured a graphic of a palm and, in the top right of the screen, a circling wheel of zodiac signs....Venus TV withdrew the ad as soon as the challenge was brought to their attention. They explained that the person normally in charge of compliance had been unable to carry out the routine advertising checks. Venus TV acknowledged that someone else should have been carrying out the compliance checks in the meantime. Venus TV explained that the advertiser had assured them that the ad had been approved and was being shown on other channels. Venus TV added that they had requested a clearance certificate for the ad and that they would not show the ad again until they had it....The ASA welcomed Venus TVs assurance that the ad had been withdrawn. We reminded Venus TV that the responsibility for advertising content lay with the broadcaster and it was not acceptable to rely on other broadcasters clearances. We noted the website that was featured in the ad stated Everyday you read in the papers about the different SPIRITUAL HEALERS and ASTROLOGERS and of their AUTHENTICITY and POWERS ... PUNDIT JEE is the only SPIRITUAL HEALER who can prove by DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE that his FAMILY i.e., FATHER and he have been ESTABLISHED in ENGLAND since 1952. NO other PSYCHIC can prove their EXISTENCE and AUTHENTICITY with DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE. This PROVES that PUNDIT JEE is the only SUCCESSFUL SPIRITUAL HEALER who has helped PEOPLE from all walks of life and can prove this by LETTERS from SATISFIED CLIENTELE who have had their PROBLEMS solved with a 100% GUARANTEE." "If you have a problem that has not been solved by any GURU or SPIRITUAL HEALER PUNDIT JEE invites you to contact him as a LAST RESORT and I PROMISE that all your PROBLEMS will be finished FOREVER and you will be one of the MILLIONS of DEVOTEES of PUNDIT MAHARAJ who are leading SUCCESSFUL and CONFIDENT lives and come EVERY YEAR from all over the WORLD to pay their RESPECTS and touch PUNDIT JEE'S feet. Because ads for the occult and psychic practices were prohibited by rule 10.3, we considered that the ad indirectly promoted an unacceptable product. The ad breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rule 3.2. (Indirect promotion)." Read the entire ruling here.
Finally, with regard to the face cream, ASA found, "A 15-minute, direct response TV ad in Hindi for Roopamrit, a face cream, aired on Venus TV. Bhagyashree, an actress, stated that the product contained herbs and roots "that shall prove to be like nectar in making your complexion fair and glowing. Jaiphal and Sarso detoxifies your skin and gets rid of your acne and pimples. Almonds and walnuts helps in clearing the dead cells off your skin and rejuvenating it, hence reducing wrinkles. Mulethi and Aloe Vera reduces dark circles under your eyes. Kesar and Chandan enhances your skin and make it fair and glowing. If you want to get rid of acne and pimples, dark circles under your eyes, reduce the wrinkles to look young and your age, if you want to get rid of your dark complexion and be fairer then start using Roopamrit." The infomercial provided several testimonials. The ASA went on, "Venus TV withdrew the infomercial as soon as it was brought to their attention. They explained that the person normally in charge of compliance had been unable to carry out the routine advertising checks. Venus TV acknowledged that someone else should have been carrying out the compliance checks in the meantime. Venus TV explained that Roopamrit was being advertised on other channels and that they had been assured that some documents would be submitted by the advertiser to substantiate the claims. Venus TV added that they had requested a clearance certificate for Roopamrit. They explained that they usually requested a clearance certificate or documentary evidence to substantiate claims....The ASA welcomed Venus TVs assurance that the infomercial had been withdrawn. We reminded Venus TV that the responsibility for advertising content lay with the broadcaster and it was not acceptable to rely on other broadcasters clearances. We understood from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) that acne was an adverse medical condition and that they would regard a claim to treat it as a medicinal claim. We understood that Roopamrit did not have a marketing authorisation. We noted that the only evidence Venus TV submitted was the same study the ASA had evaluated in July. Then we had considered that the evidence was insufficient to support the claims. We considered that the claims were misleading. The infomercial breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rules 5.1 (Misleading advertising), 5.2.1 (Evidence), 5.2.2 (Implications), 5.4.4 (Testimonials) and 8.2.3 (Products without a marketing authorisation)....We considered that the appearance of the doctors had given the impression of professional support and recommendation for the product. We were concerned that this was the second time Venus TV had breached this rule for the same reason. The infomercial breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rule 8.1.2 (a) (Impressions of professional advice and support)....We were concerned that Venus TV had so seriously failed in its compliance procedures. This was despite a reminder from the monitoring team in April to keep up to date with ASA adjudications. We were concerned that Venus TV seemed to rely on whether the ad had aired on other channels for its acceptability." Read the entire ruling here.
Even though the ASA handed down these adjudications in 2007, it requested Ofcom, its sister agency, to consider the "serious and repeated nature of the breaches" that Venus TV had committed by airing ads that ASA concluded were misleading. Consider that the ASA had consulted with Venus TV before it handed down sanctions over the ads, and had warned the channel that relying on others to vet the ads was unacceptable, since responsibility for the content lies with the broadcaster. The type of products advertised include "miracle cures" (the lightening of skin color, for example) and occult practices (rule 10.3). Read Ofcom's ruling on the Venus TV ads here.