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Company behind Bid and Price Drop shopping channels found to have made misleading price claims and product descriptions

Sit-Up could have its broadcast licence revoked after Advertising Standards Authority asks broadcasting regulator Ofcom to consider sanctions
  • @iburrell

The company behind the shopping channels Bid and Price Drop could have its broadcast licence revoked after being found to have consistently made misleading price claims and product descriptions.

The Advertising Standards Authority has asked the broadcasting regulator Ofcom to consider statutory sanctions against the company after 27 rulings against Sit-Up were upheld for breaches of ASA regulations.

The ASA has referred the broadcaster to Ofcom following repeated breaches of the Broadcast Advertising Code. Ofcom, which has accepted the referral, also has powers to fine the company up to £250,000 or 5 per cent of revenue.

Sit-Up Ltd is the licensee for three free-to-air teleshopping channels, two of which are being referred: Bid and Price Drop. Both are shown on the Freeview, Virgin Media and Sky platforms.

Since January 2012 there have been 27 ASA rulings against Sit-Up Ltd, mostly concerning misleading pricing claims and misleading product descriptions.

The ASA said today that it was "concerned that that number of misleading ads creates an on-going and cumulative risk of financial detriment to consumers".

A spokesman said: "Despite our repeated warnings and attempts to work with Sit-Up Ltd to improve its advertising we have not seen a significant improvement in its compliance record."

ASA Chief Executive, Guy Parker said: "In a live TV auction, where presenters make high-pressure, time-limited offers, it's crucial that viewers are given accurate information. Sit-Up Ltd has been given ample opportunity to address its compliance failings but hasn't done so. Our referral to Ofcom sends a clear message that companies who don't deal fairly with consumers will face consequences."

Sit-Up Ltd said it was "disappointed" with the ASA's action and claimed to have taken steps to alleviate the previous problems. It said it would be making its case to Ofcom.

"We have made significant and continuing efforts, which have been successful, to improve our compliance performance and procedures. These include compulsory training provided to us by external experts for all relevant full-time staff and freelancers at all levels within the company," said a spokesman for Sit-Up Ltd.

"We have also implemented a process whereby all new relevant full-time staff and freelancers have to undergo a strict regulatory induction and all staff have been warned that failure to keep to the standards expected of them will result in warnings and possible disciplinary consequences."