In a ruling issued on 8 October 2012, the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA) found that channels that exclusively air re-runs of movies may be counted as a distinct channel for advertising purposes.
The consumer complaint considered by the ASA centred around a TopTV ad with the following wording:
Take a defining journey
With 9 movie channels on TopTV.
Get your own!
Zonke Bonke. Unlimited entertainment.
From R99 – R269 per month.
At the bottom of the advertisement the movie channels are listed as “Top movies”, “Top Movies+2”, “Top Movies+24”, “Showtime”, “Silver”, “Star Gold”, “Top One”, “MGM”, and “African Channel”.
Summarising the complaint, the ASA said that the concerns are 3-fold:
- “Top One” is not a movie channel but rather a TV series channel;
- “Star Gold” is not part of the standard package and can only be added on at an additional R69.
- There are not 9 movie channels as 3 of the channels are time-shifted channels.
According to the ASA the first two of these issues are effectively addressed by the TopTV’s admission that the advertising was incorrect.
“Top One” should have been replaced with “Zee Cinema” and TopTV promised that future advertising would clarify the details regarding the pricing the “Star Gold” channel. TopTV supplied the ASA with an example of an advertisement that showed this.
The ASA accepted the undertaking by TopTV to ensure that all future advertising is accurate and appropriately clear.
However, TopTV challenged the assertion that the 3 Top Movies channels should not be counted separately as “multiplexed channels” is an international practice.
Top Movies+2 and Top Movies+24 show the same films as Top Movies, but with a 2 and 24 hour delay, respectively.
The ASA directorate solicited an opinion from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) on the matter, who confirmed TopTV’s statement.
Given that the advertisement describes the channels as “Top Movies”, “Top Movies+2” and “Top Movies+24”, and that TopTV is offering a customer 9 different channels which will at any given point have 9 different movies showing, the ASA directorate said it does not share the complainant’s opinion.
“While the Directorate accepts that the complainant would have preferred three distinctly different channels, with different content, the opinion from the NAB appears to suggest that this is a common practice,” the ASA said.
“The Directorate also accepts that this would address concerns over time zone differences, and would potentially allow subscribers who were not able to record to still see their preferred movie, only at a different time or date.”