`Distasteful' royal TV advert to stay

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The Independent Online

Media Correspondent

L!ve TV, the cable channel which features Topless Darts and scantily clad weather girls, yesterday vowed to continue running an advertisement which offended the Queen and which it has been ordered to withdraw.

It is now on a collision course with the Advertising Standards Authority, which ruled that the advert for the channel's Live Predictions programme should be dropped.

It features a wedding photograph of the Prince and Princess of Wales, with Prince Charles's head replaced by that of a grinning Paul Gascoigne and with the Princess of Wales apparently kissing the footballer.

The photograph was headlined: "Who knows what the future holds?" - an apparent reference to the Princess's friendship with Will Carling, another famous British sportsman.

Charles Anson, the Queen's press secretary, had claimed the advertisement was distasteful and that neither the Prince nor Princess had given permission for L!ve TV to use the picture.

But the advertisers, Young and Rubicam, argued that the photograph had been in the public domain for 15 years. Their approach, they claimed, was "humorous and not offensive". The ASA said the advertisement should be withdrawn because it broke the rule banning references to the Royal Family.

But Kelvin MacKenzie, managing director of Mirror Television which owns the cable station, said that L!ve TV would not bow to an outdated and arcane advertising code.

"The rule was made 25 years ago to protect the royals when they were held in high regard . . . In 1996 they have abdicated that position and they are basically one of us," he said.

The ASA also upheld a complaint by the Catholic Media Office about two mail order advertisements by the Lourdes Research Organisation for a statue of the Virgin "in a dome immersed in the miraculous water of Lourdes".

They claimed Lourdes was the "the place where the world's most numerous and astounding miracles occur" and that the owners of "even a few drops of this water constantly attest to the . . . fortunate events that occur in all aspects of their lives".

Fifteen people questioned whether the so-called LRO could prove Lourdes water or statues brought good fortune and objected that its name implied it was an official body. Both complaints were upheld.