TV watchdog acts after commercial causes fits

THE Independent Television Commission is seeking advice on guidelines for advertisers who may want to use flashing lights and flickering, high-contrast backgrounds in commercials after three people suffered epileptic fits while watching one advertisement.

The incidents happened during commercials for Golden Wonder Pot Snacks, which featured computer graphics like those in many pop videos, the ITC said.

The cases, believed to be the first of their kind, are similar to those earlier this year involving Nintendo video games, when parents complained the commercials triggered epileptic fits in several children.

The ITC received 28 complaints about the Golden Wonder commercial and upheld them. It confirmed that the company's advertising agency took medical advice on the possibility of epileptic attacks before broadcasting the commercial.

But the ITC added: 'For whatever reason . . . these precautions did not appear to have been sufficient. The ITC has no record of reports of previous commercials causing actual epileptic fits and three separate cases in a matter of days strongly suggested that there was something unusual. As soon as there was evidence of actual harm being caused the ITC immediately suspended use of this commercial.'