August 2, 2015
The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld complaints on six different counts against two press advertisements for Virgin Media's broadband, voice and television services.
The complaints appear to been made by BSkyB, which challenged comparisons made in the advertisements between Virgin’s packages and theirs. A member of the public also complained to the authority.
Virgin Media was criticised by the authority for comparing its 2Mb/sec service with Sky’s more expensive 8Mb/sec service, completely ignoring the fact that Sky also offered the cheaper 2Mb/sec service. In its defence, Virgin claimed it had been unaware of the 2Mb/sec offering from Sky, even though the service has been heavily promoted. The Advertising Standards Authority ruled that the comparison was unfair and likely to mislead.
Virgin was also accused of advertising its £30 promotional price instead of the £39 standard price, and for failing to make clear that its video-on-demand service incurred extra charges.
This claim was made in a regional press advertisement, which stated: “The real deal TV, Broadband and Phone £30 a month Digital TV with over 125 channels plus access to a vast library of films and TV shows Broadband with no download limits. Phone includes line rental and unlimited weekend calls to any UK landline”. Small print at the bottom of the ad stated that there was a 12 month minimum term contract. The offer was: £30 a month for 12 months, then standard prices apply (currently £39).
Further reprimands were given to Virgin Media for claiming that Sky had no video-on-demand services and implying there was no warranty on its equipment.
Virgin was finally criticised for not making it clear enough that connection speeds hinged on the number of people connected at any one time.
The ASA has instructed Virgin not to run the advertisements in future.
The Advertising Standards Authority is the independent body set up by the advertising industry to police the rules laid down in the advertising codes.