Channel 5 rapped over bingo TV promo
Monday, June 20 2011, 16:22 BST
By Andrew Laughlin,

Channel 5 has been censured by Ofcom over a television promotion for its online bingo game that promised cash prizes that weren't actually available.

In a 30-second advert for Channel 5's free-to-play bingo game, the voiceover said: "If you haven't already signed up for today's free bingo at…what are waiting for? Sign up now at There are real cash prizes and it's absolutely free to play."

However, a viewer complained that the ad was misleading after she visited the Channel 5 website to find that the prizes were only being offered in High Street vouchers.

Ofcom's rules permit broadcasters to run cross-promotions on TV for "broadcasting-related services", but these adverts "must not materially mislead or be likely to do so".

Channel 5 tried to argue that cash prizes had been offered on its bingo service until December 13 last year, but after that they were replaced with vouchers to High Street retailers.

The broadcaster amended its website to make this clear, including an online explanatory video, but due to "human error" the reference to cash prizes was not removed from the TV cross-promotion. Channel 5 apologised for the error and stressed that it had removed the reference from future promotional broadcasts.

Ofcom noted the apology from Channel 5 and steps taken to correct the cross-promotion, but still found clear breaches of the Broadcast Advertising Standards Code (BCAP).

"Having watched the cross-promotion, viewers would have expected to be able to win a cash prize on the Channel 5 online bingo service, when in fact only high street vouchers were available," said the watchdog.

"We therefore concluded that the item had been misleading in its unamended form. The material was therefore in breach of the BCAP Code's provisions on misleadingness."

Earlier in the month, ITV was censured by Ofcom for featuring overly promotional reviews of new video games in children's programme Cool Stuff Collective.