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Sky gets its knuckles rapped over Virgin Media jibe

The ASA defines when broadband is 'superfast'
Wed Oct 09 2013, 17:16

CONTINUING the war of words between media giants Sky and Virgin Media, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has partially upheld a complaint from Team Branson regarding a direct mail campaign criticising Virgin's traffic management policies.

In the ASA adjudication reported Wednesday morning, Sky was criticised for a faux conversation between a fictional customer and a Virgin Media sales rep, in which the 'rep' admitted that Virgin Media's broadband speeds are subject to traffic management suffer from a perceived lack of high definition and 3D content.

Virgin Media had complained that Sky had exaggerated the effect of the traffic shaping, and the number of channels in standard definition, and suggested that Virgin customers had no access to 3D content, arguing that the service had been portrayed negatively.

The ASA found that, as the traffic management policy affected a small minority of customers and that because the minimum speed of traffic management was 30Mbps it still qualified as 'superfast'. It also found that the advert "was presented in a manner that went beyond a robust and objective comparison of the services offered by Sky and Virgin Media and denigrated Virgin Media's brand".

It did not uphold Virgin Media's complaints about high definition and 3D content availability.

We asked Sky and Virgin to comment on the ASA ruling, but neither was available at the time of writing.

The judgment concluded, "The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Sky not to misleadingly exaggerate the effect of competitors' services in future. We also told Sky not to denigrate Virgin Media's brand in future."

As ever, this is more of a "play nicely, children" admonition than a ruling, and we can expect to see the next salvo fired soon, and probably every other month until the end of time. µ


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