The radio advertisement featuring a male voiceover referred to the follow:
“In this week’s Sunday World, the most shocking week in the bloody history of gangland violence, a new and vicious underworld war has left two men dead and sent a wake-up call to a terrified nation. This Sunday, as a thin blue police line battles to regain control of the streets, we report from the front line of a city that is gripped by fear. There’s only one place to get the full story of gangland at war – The Sunday World, the people’s paper.”
The complainant considered the content of the advertising to be inaccurate and non-evidence based. She also considered that it could serve to add to any fears that already existed in relation to the matter.
The advertisers said that the content of their advertising had referred in an honest, accurate and reasonable manner to widely publicised facts and events which were causing fear and terror on a wide scale among members of the public. This was a fact that had also been acknowledged by politicians, media and justice establishments.
They said they ran advertisements on a weekly basis as part of a recognisable, year round campaign, aimed at readers of the Sunday World. The advertising in question was part of this campaign which had been targeted at a mature audience, who would have been listening to a current affairs programme at the time the advertisement aired. This programme would also have included coverage of the events which were the subject matter of the advertisement.
The advertisers also said that the storyline was a matter of acute public interest for the media to report on and was one which had been often raised during the course of the 2016 General Election.
In conclusion the advertisers said that the purpose of their advertising had not been to arouse fear but rather to report on fears that had already been widely acknowledged in the public domain.
Complaint not upheld.
The Committee considered that caution was required when developing advertising for media coverage about situations such as that involved in this case. They noted that the advertisers’ intention had not been to heighten the fears that had been acknowledged as existing in the public domain, but had been to inform the public that the newspaper would be running an editorial piece on the subject matter in their Sunday publication. They did not consider that in this case the advertising had caused unnecessary fear or distress and therefore found that it had not breached the Code
Whilst not upholding the complaint in this instance, the Committee said that caution should be exercised if developing similar advertising in future to ensure that the storyline was not overemphasised or that the advertising caused unnecessary fear or distress to members of the public.
No further action was required in this case.