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Breach of Broadcasting Rules
25-07-2011, 07:18 PM
Post: #1
Breach of Broadcasting Rules
In Breach
Psychic TV Teleshopping Feature
Big Deal,11 March 2011, 21:30 to 22:00
Introduction
A viewer objected that this teleshopping feature offering psychic readings to viewers
contained claims of efficacy and accuracy for the psychics‟ abilities, which is
prohibited by the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (“the BCAP Code”).
1
Readings are charged for by premium rate telephone services (PRS) and credit
cards.
In September 2010 new Ofcom rules came into force with the effect that channels
and content predicated on the promotion of PRS services (“participation television“)
became subject to the BCAP Code. Because channels of this sort make direct offers
to the public and are „long-form‟, they are classified as teleshopping.
This half-hour feature was therefore a teleshopping „window‟.
2
At the same time that the new Ofcom rules came into force, the revised BCAP Code
allowed PRS-based live and personalised psychic services on channels licensed for
that purpose (previously the BCAP Code had prohibited such services).
3
In permitting this category of advertising the BCAP Code places certain restrictions
on it.
Rule 15.5.2 requires that:
“Advertisements for personalised and live services that rely on belief in
astrology, horoscopes, tarot and derivative practices are acceptable only on
channels that are licensed for the purpose of the promotion of such services
and are appropriately labelled: both the advertisement and the product or
service itself must state that the product or service is for entertainment
purposes only”.
Rule 15.5.3 requires that:
“Advertising permitted under rule 15.5 may not:
• Make claims for efficacy or accuracy;
• Predict negative experiences or specific events;

1
The BCAP Code is available at: http://bcap.org.uk/The-Codes/BCAP-Code.aspx
2
Teleshopping „windows‟ must be a minimum of 15 minutes long: see COSTA, which can be
found through the link given in paragraph b) of the Introduction to the Bulletin.
3
Ofcom, not the ASA, is responsible for the regulation of psychic and other “participation TV”
services: see paragraph c) of the Introduction to the Bulletin.26
• Offer life-changing advice directed at individuals – including advice related
to health (including pregnancy) or financial situation;
• Appeal particularly to children;
• Encourage excessive use”.
Ofcom viewed the material that had been complained about. Various statements
were made by the presenter, by psychics and in text messages sent by viewers.
Viewers‟ messages were displayed in text on screen, including the following:
“anon: Holly u were spot on phil cancer as u predicted on tues, amazing!
When do u see nxt contact & is there a future? Thanks x”;
“FEEDBACK: I had a text reading from holly, firstly I can not stress how
comforting and lovely this ladies voice is, she is very detailed and spot on.
Cupcake (28) Ireland”;
“FEEDBACK: WOW WOW WOW!! Just had the quickest most detailed
reading with this wonderful Jannette-Anne!! I only had a few minutes.
IrishLady”; and
“Anne you told me 1 year ago that I would end up with the man with initial R,
blue eyes, fair hair!! I found it so hard to believe back then but as time goes
on, your predictions all happen. Pree”.
Other text was displayed on screen (which did not appear to have been provided by
a viewer). It said:
“Manalix will provide accurate and sensitive advice on your life issues, such
as love, relationships, career moves, spiritual healing or direction in your life.
Option 4”.
Among the comments made by the presenter and by psychics in the studio were
these:
Presenter: “…all of our psychics have been vetted and checked: they‟ve all got
years of experience behind them”.
Psychic: “Love to speak to sceptics!
Presenter: I‟m sure there‟s a few tonight.
Psychic: Oh, I‟ve converted a few definitely in my time…at least you get
reaction out of a sceptic cos they go “you couldn‟t possibly know that!”
I did a reading for a guy, OK, who was up a mountain, doing spiritual
work, completely closed off, protection, not speaking to anybody, not
seeing anybody, for like 21 days, and I gave him a message about the
song he was singing on the top of the mountain.
Presenter: You‟re joking!
Psychic: And that‟s what he said: „You cannot know that‟. I said, „I can‟”.27
Presenter: “…she‟s also gonna validate; so for any sceptics out there,
„validations‟ are pieces of evidence to prove to you that we‟re actually
linked into you. So this could be something like your cat‟s name or
what you‟ve been doing today, or you might have recently dyed your
hair – the psychic will pick up on that. It‟s gonna be a piece of
information that nobody could possibly have known, like a song that
you were just singing…”
Presenter: “You might have broken up with your partner because there‟s
somebody else out there who‟s your soulmate. Well, we can find out
when you‟re gonna meet them, what their name is, who they‟re around
– all of that information on the phones…”
Psychic: “Our job is to prove to you without making it [indistinct] that our job is
real, and the way we do this is by giving you little snippets of proof,
little “how could they know that?” moments that, you know, we are
linked in, tuned in, with you…”
Presenter: “And of course, if anybody leaves us feedback, texts in feedback, for
any of our psychics today we will prioritise that for you. If you‟ve had a
reading and somebody got something right for you let us know. We
don‟t know we‟ve got it right unless you let us know.”
A constantly scrolling text banner contained various information including call costs
and a statement that the content was for “entertainment purposes only”.
Ofcom considered that this material raised issues under Rules 15.5.2 and 15.5.3, as
set out above. Therefore we sought comments from the broadcaster in respect of
these rules.
Response
Generally, Big Deal said that it assumed Ofcom was concerned that the comments
highlighted were in some way exploitative and harmful. The broadcaster did not
directly give a view on the point.
Big Deal stressed the regular scrolling message explaining that the material was for
entertainment purposes only and that the programme content “...is entertaining to
many as Ofcom‟s own research amply demonstrates.”
The broadcaster sought to distinguish the comments made by viewers that were
displayed by text from the comments made by the presenter and psychics. It told us,
“Many of the comments relate to viewer feedback. That feedback is provided by
individual viewers and is not created by or for the programme.” The broadcaster
stated that the feedback was, in its view, a distinct element that did not form part of
the teleshopping.
The broadcaster said further that it believed “...viewers have a right to express their
feelings about the programme and that it is entertaining for other viewers to see and
hear what they have to say. Viewer feedback is a widely used form of entertainment
on other non-psychic teleshopping channels, such as QVC.”
Again in this respect, the broadcaster said that, “Viewer comments are the comments
of the viewer, not of the programme. The programme does not write or say those 28
comments. They are not made by the viewer in return for payment. They are aired by
the programme to enhance the entertainment value afforded by the programme and
not for the purpose of making a profit.”
Stressing its view that the viewers‟ text messages cannot be regarded as being part
of the teleshopping, Big Deal described them as “independent feedback”. Further, it
told us that “Teleshopping is a hybrid form of advertising. Within the meaning of the
BCAP Code it is the making of a direct offer for the supply of services in return for
payment ie: in this context the programme promotes the services of the Psychic
presenters and the payment is the payment for a premium rate call.”
Big Deal stated that great care is taken by the programme presenter to ensure that
viewers are familiar with the manner in which the service operates, and that this is
important to help avoid any misunderstanding “...as to the manner in which the
programme operates and serves to enhance the value the viewer derives from their
viewing experience.”
More generally, Big Deal maintained that the teleshopping does not make any claims
for efficacy or accuracy. The broadcaster said that the viewers‟ comments are
statements of fact made independently.
As to the presenter, the broadcaster said that she “...goes out of her way, as does
the programme generally, to stress that the Psychic‟s are focused on positivity. Most
certainly they do not predict negative experiences or events. They provide guidance
and not advice, being alert to the need to comply with BCAP Rule 15.5.3.”
Big Deal stated that the experience of the psychics was carefully vetted to ensure
that the broadcaster could satisfy itself as to their experience and suitability. Further,
“It is relevant to the trust that should exist between the viewer and the programme
that the viewer is given information regarding each Psychic‟s background.”
The broadcaster explained that it is in the nature of what the psychics do that they
should “connect” with the viewer. In this respect it pointed out that Hazel Lee (a
psychic) stated “it‟s all about energy and we kind of pick up on your energy and
what‟s going on with you right now”.
Big Deal said that it received very few complaints about the psychic teleshopping and
that the channel Psychic TV itself has an impeccable record. The broadcaster
understood that Ofcom also receives very few “genuine” viewer complaints.
It said further that it conducted regular, continuous and stringent training of
presenters, psychics and production staff, and carried out regular reviews and
reporting to ensure the highest standards are met.
It was, therefore, of great concern and surprise to Big Deal that Ofcom should have
received numbers of genuine viewer complaints. Big Deal questioned whether the
complaints come from genuine viewers or from industry complainants. [As indicated
at the start of this Finding and as was made clear to the broadcaster, one complaint
was received.]
The broadcaster was also concerned that no guidance had been published by Ofcom
about psychic material. 29
However, Big Deal said that, in light of Ofcom‟s recent decision regarding Psychic
TV
4
, it had taken action to remove viewer feedback from the content. It did not,
though, abandon its views on viewer feedback, in line with the submission made in
this case.
Decision
The BCAP Code‟s prohibition on claims of efficacy or accuracy in advertising for
psychic services serves an important purpose. In tandem with the requirement that
such services must make clear that they are intended for entertainment only, the rule
seeks to ensure that these practices are not presented as in any way dependable or
based on any reliable evidence.
In this case, Ofcom first considered whether the advertising had contained claims of
efficacy or accuracy, and then sought to establish whether the service had made
clear that it was intended for entertainment purposes only.
Ofcom did not accept Big Deal‟s argument about the nature of the material included
in the service. Irrespective of any value or benefit that consumers might derive from
this service, Ofcom considered that the broadcaster had featured a number of
examples of customer „feedback‟ which clearly amounted to claims of both accuracy
and efficacy. For example: “Holly u were spot on...”, “...she is very detailed and spot
on...”, “...your predictions all happen...”
Where consumers comment favourably on a product or service in advertising the
comments are advertising claims. Such claims are generally known as testimonials
and are subject to the provisions of the BCAP Code just like any other claim included
within advertising.
Further, the presenter and psychics themselves made unambiguous claims and
assurances about the accuracy and efficacy of the readings. For example,
“…all of our psychics have been vetted and checked: they‟ve all got years of
experience behind them”.
“…she‟s also gonna validate; so for any sceptics out there, “validations” are
pieces of evidence to prove to you that we‟re actually linked into you. So this
could be something like your cat‟s name or what you‟ve been doing today, or
you might have recently dyed your hair – the psychic will pick up on that. It‟s
gonna be a piece of information that nobody could possibly have known, like
a song that you were just singing…”
“You might have broken up with your partner because there‟s somebody else
out there who‟s your soulmate. Well, we can find out when you‟re gonna meet
them, what their name is, who they‟re around – all of that information on the
phones…”
Ofcom was therefore of the view that the claims in the customer testimonials were
further emphasised by these repeated claims made by the presenter and psychics.
Broadcasters in this field must ensure that they avoid the inclusion of claims, explicit
or implied, for the efficacy or accuracy of psychic practices. This will require that

4
In Bulletin 180, available at:
http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binarie...b180.pdf30
presenters, guests and anyone else working on the channel take care to stay away
from this area, and that there is no inclusion of testimonials or similar customer
comments given by callers.
Avoiding such claims also extends to not allowing on air any comment, whoever
makes it, that could be understood to be an indication of efficacy or accuracy,
including spontaneous comments from customers who might be speaking on air. The
material included in this advertising featured a number of claims of efficacy and
accuracy for the psychic services that were being promoted, and was therefore in
breach of Rule 15.5.3 of the BCAP Code.
Ofcom then turned to consider the advertising against the requirements of Rule
15.5.2. We noted that the broadcast content was labelled on air as being for
entertainment purposes. However, in view of the fact that the material featured
repeated claims of efficacy and accuracy in breach of Rule 15.5.3, as set out above,
Ofcom judged that these claims contradicted the purpose of the mandatory labelling
of this material as being merely entertainment. Therefore Ofcom also found the
advertising in breach of Rule 15.5.2.
As to the need for guidance, we do not believe that Rule 15.5.2 requires elaboration
for it to be easily understood. Nevertheless, for the avoidance of any doubt we take
this opportunity to make clear that any suggestion at all in psychic advertising that
the services offered are able to provide viewers with anything more than merely
entertainment and generalised advice is likely to raise issues under the BCAP Code.
Breaches of these rules are potentially serious because they may result in consumer
harm. Ofcom puts Big Deal on notice that should compliance issues of this type arise
in future, it will be likely to consider the imposition of statutory sanctions.
Breaches of Rule
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25-07-2011, 07:28 PM
Post: #2
RE: Breach of Broadcasting Rules
You can see that what the public want from these type of shows is strictly not allowed in the most part. How long Psychic TV will be allowed in the uk is up for debate. I feel it will not last very long in the present from because the STATUTORY SANCTIONS OFCOM threaten will end up with the broadcasting licences being revoked. To stay within the rules does make the shows slow and uninteresting to most viewers. I would love for you alol to comment on this because to keep the shows going we need your views and help. Please take this posting seriously as I do not want to see any of the shows close. As the most evidenced / documented real psychic in the world today I have a personal interest in these shows.
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26-07-2011, 08:54 AM
Post: #3
RE: Breach of Broadcasting Rules
I think the complaints are being made by a sad person or persons that don't have much else to do with their time! I mean, come on! Leave it alone for goodness sake, it's not hurting anyone is it?
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26-07-2011, 10:31 AM
Post: #4
RE: Breach of Broadcasting Rules
sally morgan also breached

'Psychic Sally: On The Road' rapped by Ofcom
Monday, July 18 2011, 17:34 BST
By Andrew Laughlin, Technology Reporter
3
18

Email this story
Sally MorganGordon RamsayBroadcastingTV

© Sky
Sky Living's Psychic Sally: On the Road has been rapped by Ofcom for dispensing potentially "life-changing advice" during a psychic reading.

The factual entertainment show follows self-proclaimed psychic Sally Morgan's tour of the UK, giving live performances and private psychic readings.

Ofcom expressed concern about an episode aired on April 17 that featured Morgan giving a private reading to a young woman named Mandy, who was said to be "desperate for answers from her dead mother".

Discussing Mandy's mother's health problems, Morgan told the woman: "There is nothing within you, genetically, that you need to panic about health-wise." To this, Mandy replied: "I can go on now without any worries that anything's going to be passed on."

Ofcom's broadcasting guidelines make clear that programming featuring "exorcism, the occult or paranormal practices" must protect participants and viewers from "potentially harmful material".

Sky, which acquired the Living bouquet of channels from Virgin Media last summer, said that it applies a "consistent and strict editorial policy" to Psychic Sally: On the Road.

The broadcaster claimed that Morgan only mentions medical conditions in her readings if "the participant confirms that they are aware of any condition and are seeking independent medical advice". Despite viewing the programme as a "borderline case", Sky said that it has edited out the section from future transmissions.

In its ruling, Ofcom found a clear breach of Rule 2.8 stipulating that "programmes containing demonstrations of psychic practices must not contain life-changing advice directed at individuals".

"Ofcom noted that during the private reading, having discussed Mandy's mother's illness and subsequent death, Sally made a direct and categorical statement about Mandy's genetic health," said the regulator.

"Ofcom acknowledged that Mandy did not indicate that she was going to cease medical care or change her behaviour. However, Ofcom considered that Mandy had interpreted Sally's comment as a statement of fact, given that, responding to it in her interview, she said, 'I can go on now without any worries that anything's going to be passed on'.

"In Ofcom's view, the direct and certain nature of the advice and its delivery could have resulted in her reasonably acting or relying on Sally's assertion. Ofcom therefore considered this to constitute 'life-changing advice' directed at an individual."

The regulator noted Sky's assurances regarding a compliance review of Psychic Sally: On the Road, and said that it does not "expect any recurrence of this issue".

Also today, Ofcom criticised the eighth series of Hell's Kitchen USA on ITV2 for the "very strong swearing" of Gordon Ramsay and the show's contestants.

Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin, Issue 186 18 July 2011
In Breach
Psychic Sally: On the Road
Sky Livingit, 17 April 2011, 20:00
Introduction
Psychic Sally: On the Road is an entertainment series chronicling self-proclaimed psychic Sally Morgan‟s tour of the UK. The programme features clips from her live performances, private psychic readings and behind-the-scenes footage from her tour.
During this programme, Sally conducted a private reading for a young woman, Mandy, who was introduced in the voiceover as “a mum to be” who was “desperate for answers from her dead mother.” During the reading, Sally and Mandy talked about how Mandy had found out after her mother‟s death that she had a sister who had been adopted. They also discussed Mandy‟s mother‟s illnesses and subsequent death. This was interspersed with an interview with Mandy held after the reading in which she gave her reaction to Sally‟s comments.
During the reading, Sally discussed Mandy‟s mother‟s illnesses and advised:
“There is nothing within you, genetically, that you need to panic about healthwise”.
During the later interview, Mandy said, in response to this:
“My mum was a very poorly lady. She had a lot of heart problems and she was diabetic. My doctor also treated my mum and he‟s always very conscious of getting me in yearly for checks and so far it‟s always been brilliant so hopefully I can go on now without any worries that anything‟s going to be passed on”.
Ofcom considered this material raised issues that warranted investigation under Rule 2.8 of the Code which states:
Rule 2.8 “Demonstrations of the exorcism, the occult, the paranormal, divination, or practices related to any of these (where such
demonstration purport to be real or are for entertainment purposes) must not contain life-changing advice directed at individuals.”
The Code defines “life-changing advice” in this context as “direct advice for individuals upon which they could reasonably act or rely on about health, finance, employment or relationships.”
We therefore sought comments from British Sky Broadcasting Ltd (“Sky”) under this rule.
Response
Sky explained the “programme was complied by Virgin Media as part of their compliance process of the Living channels before compliance functions were taken over by Sky on January 1st 2011” but that since the broadcast of this programme, it had completed its own review of this series.
19
Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin, Issue 186 18 July 2011
Sky said that it had applied a “consistent and strict editorial policy” to all episodes of Psychic Sally: On the Road by editing out material where Sally makes “observations pertaining to the health or wealth of participants, predicts the future or offers life changing in advice in her performances.” Sky added that Sally occasionally “mentions medical conditions in her „readings‟” but takes the view that these do not constitute life changing advice if “the participant confirms that they are aware of any condition and are seeking independent medical advice.”
The broadcaster said that it regarded the matter as “a borderline case” as “[a]t no point did the participant say that she is going to cease the medical care she is receiving or make any other changes in her behaviour as a result of Sally‟s „reading‟.” However, Sky said that it has taken the decision to “edit this section out...of any future transmissions [of the programme], to ensure viewers are not of the opinion that this medical or life-changing advice.”
Decision
Under the Communications Act 2003, Ofcom has a duty to set such standards for broadcast content as appear to it best calculated to secure the standards objectives, including that that “generally accepted standards” are applied so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from the inclusion of offensive and harmful material.
The Code makes clear that particular care is required around programming featuring exorcism, the occult or paranormal practices to protect both participants and viewers from potentially harmful material. A demonstration of the paranormal (in this case, a psychic) could result in participants (or indeed, viewers) acting on information in a way that could be harmful to them. Therefore Rule 2.8 of the Code requires that programmes containing demonstrations of psychic practices must not contain-life changing advice directed at individuals.
The Code defines “life changing advice” as “direct advice for individuals upon which they could reasonably act or rely on about health, finance, employment or relationships.”
Ofcom noted that during the private reading, having discussed Mandy‟s mother‟s illness and subsequent death, Sally made a direct and categorical statement about Mandy‟s genetic health:
“There is nothing within you, genetically, that you need to panic about healthwise”.
Ofcom acknowledged that Mandy did not indicate that she was going to cease medical care or change her behaviour. However, Ofcom considered that Mandy had interpreted Sally‟s comment as a statement of fact, given that, responding to it in her interview, she said:
“...I can go on now without any worries that anything‟s going to be passed on”.
In Ofcom‟s view, the direct and certain nature of the advice and its delivery could have resulted in her reasonably acting or relying on Sally‟s assertion.
20
Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin, Issue 186 18 July 2011
Ofcom therefore considered this to constitute “life changing advice” directed at an individual, in breach of Rule 2.8 of the Code.
Ofcom notes Sky‟s assurances regarding its compliance review of this series. We do not expect any recurrence of this issue.
Breach of Rule 2.8
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29-07-2011, 02:57 PM
Post: #5
RE: Breach of Broadcasting Rules
looks like they got into trouble too
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30-07-2011, 08:33 AM
Post: #6
RE: Breach of Broadcasting Rules
I see in the last issue of the ofcom bulletin Psychic Tv had two complaints not upheld, so maybe there beginning to see sense
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30-07-2011, 03:08 PM
Post: #7
RE: Breach of Broadcasting Rules
I saw a FB post by one of the PI presenters to a PI Psychic that said they can now use the term "guides" again!!
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