Adverts 'inappropriate' after Dunblane deaths

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The Independent Online
The issue of advertisement scheduling after a tragedy will re- open today after a television watchdog upheld complaints about campaigns shown shortly after the Dunblane massacre.

The Independent Television Commission received complaints from 17 viewers after the murder of 16 Scottish schoolchildren six weeks ago, although it said commercial channels took pains to "act sensitively".

Nine complaints focused on a Persil Non-Bio advertisement on GMTV in which a couple said their son had a toy gun on his bed. It followed a programme on child bereavement which had shown footage of flowers outside the Dunblane primary school where the tragedy happened.

The ITC upheld the complaints, despite GMTV's defence that the original schedule - the bereavement programme had been extended - would have avoided the juxtaposition. It was "regrettable", the watchdog said.

It also upheld a complaint objecting to an advertisement for Woolworth's Ladybird clothes which featured young children looking sad as their clothes were put away to a soundtrack of the song "We'll Meet Again". it was shown on the day of the shootings and on two following days.

But the commission gave credit to Meridian and Channel Television for withdrawing the advertisement as soon as TSMS, the scheduling company, received objections.

The third advertisement which prompted complaints was for Lee Jeans. It showed a man firing a shotgun at his daughter's boyfriend. Four viewers felt it was inappropriate to show the advert on Channel 4 in the week of the shootings, a view upheld by the commission.

The ITC also ruled that it would have been "preferable" for Channel 4 to suspend the trailer for the film Get Shorty which featured shooting scenes, at least in the week following the tragedy.

But it added: "The television companies and the sales houses acting on their behalf all have procedures for identifying programming and developing news stories that might require the rescheduling of particular advertisements.

"These procedures were put into effect after the news of the Dunblane killings became known and a number of advertisements with potentially sensitive content were temporarily removed from the schedules and others were rescheduled.

"All this was carried out at very short notice. The ITC is satisfied that, in the main, the television companies acted responsibly and sensitively."