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ASA Slaps Virgin Media over Newspaper Broadband Adverts

Posted: 08th Apr, 2009 By: MarkJ
The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld two complaints against a national press advert for Virgin Media's (VM) broadband services. Both adverts made "misleading" references to the speeds that customers could expect to receive in comparison to those connecting over a broadband service on BT's telephone line.

BSkyB challenged (complaint 1) whether the claim "10 out of 10 homes with our fibre optic broadband can get 20Mb" was misleading, because they did not believe there was sufficient capacity in Virgin's network to provide all customers with 20Mbps at the same time.

The ASA also challenged (complaint 2) whether the comparison between the speed available on Virgin's service and the speed available over BT phone lines was misleading and unfair. This was with reference to the following advert quote: "70% of homes in the UK can't get 8Mb over BT phone lines - source: Point Topic ... All cable broadband enabled homes can achieve their 'access line speed'":

1. Upheld
Because we had not seen data demonstrating that all Virgin's 20Mb cable broadband customers could achieve the headline speed in the home, we concluded that Virgin had not substantiated that claim.

On this point the ad breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation) and 7.1 (Truthfulness).

2. Upheld
We understood that Virgin had based the claim in the ad on the maximum headline speeds that they believed Virgin's cable network technology could support, but we considered that that headline speed would not necessarily be achieved by all of Virgin's 20Mb cable broadband customers. Because of that, and because we considered that the basis on which the comparison had been made was not appropriate, we concluded that the comparison made in the ad was unfair and misleading.

On this point the ad breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 6.1 (Honesty), 7.1 (Truthfulness) and 19.1 (Other comparisons).

The ASA has warned Virgin Media not to show the advert again in its current form. This marks the second time that complaints about a national press advert for Virgin's broadband service have been upheld since February (original news).
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