Sky Sports rapped for Hawk-Eye branding

Tuesday, October 27 2009, 14:04 GMT

By Andrew Laughlin,

Ofcom has rapped Sky Sports for breaking sponsorship rules by permitting Specsavers branding to appear on the Hawk-Eye segments in its recent Ashes cricket coverage.

The media regulator received a complaint about the Specsavers logo briefly appearing on the technical analysis of batting and bowling performance in the series.

As products and service are not allowed to feature in programming under the current broadcasting guidelines, Ofcom asked Sky to explain why this situation had occurred.

In response, Sky Sports said that Specsavers was brought in as a sponsorship partner to balance the "significant" cost of using Hawk-Eye for its coverage.

The broadcaster also claimed that the sponsorship was wholly justified as the technology is "programme-related material".

However, Ofcom denied that that Hawk-Eye represented programme related content, as this is typically a podcast or book which brings benefits outside the viewing experience.

The watchdog further moved to dismiss Sky's argument because it could open the floodgates to other in-programme material being suggested for sponsorship.

"Were Sky's argument to hold, it would become possible to attract in-programme sponsorship for numerous production techniques including, presumably, slow-motion replays... graphics of team formations and tactics and any number of other aspects of production and presentation," said Ofcom.

As the complaint was fully upheld, Sky Sports will now have to solely foot the bill of using Hawk-Eye for its coverage in future.