On 26 May 2009, Ofcom announced in a statement on
the Regulation of Transactional TV Gambling Channels that all
transactional TV gambling services or transactional gambling
"windows" on TV that invite viewers to pay money to take part in
gaming (such as roulette or bingo) or to place bets (for example,
on virtual horse or dog races) will be treated as teleshopping.
Ofcom stated that:
(a) Licensees who choose to provide services comprising
transactional gambling should be treated as providing teleshopping,
rather than editorial output (e.g. output designed to be "genuine
programming"), which will therefore require a teleshopping licence.
This will also apply to transactional gambling "windows" (gaming or
betting features that appear on otherwise editorial services
usually of between 15 minutes to three hours in length).
(b) Licensees will still be able to decide which output they wish
to provide, i.e. a purely editorial gambling-themed service or a
teleshopping service. However, to qualify as editorial, any such
services should provide genuine programming and not include
transactional gambling in which offers are made - express or
implied - to viewers to participate in the services on screen.
Prior to this announcement, licencees who wished to
provide transactional gambling services had the choice of the form
of authorisation to apply for, and could either apply to be
authorised for editorial output, or for teleshopping. This meant
that similar channels were regulated under different codes and by
Transactional gambling services will, as from 1
June 2009, be regulated as teleshopping, being advertising
consisting of direct offers to the public, under the Broadcast
Committee of Advertising Practice Code ("BCAP Code") administered
through the Advertising Standards Authority. Accordingly, licensees
operating under an existing "editorial" licence in respect of
transactional gambling services/windows should ensure they are also
compliant with the BCAP Code.
Ofcom has indicated that the implementation of the
policy change will be made quickly, with variations to existing
licences taking place by mid-June. Ofcom will be contacting those
licensees who hold "editorial" licences with details of the
proposed variations and will provide the opportunity to make
representations on the proposed variations.
The reclassification of transactional gambling
windows within otherwise editorial content as teleshopping windows
took effect from 1 June 2009. This is in line with the new rules
set out in Ofcom’s Code on the Scheduling of Television
Advertising. This statement also releases, from 1 June 2009,
non-public sector broadcasting (PSB) licensees from previous
restrictions on the number of hours of teleshopping permissible on
such channels. PSB channels will also be permitted to show
teleshopping between midnight and 6am from 1 June 2009.
Please see our previous Law-Now for further