The British free-to-air television channel ITV faced criticism for not suspending gambling adverts during Euro 2020.
The head of the social policy group Christian Action Research and Education (CARE) has addressed the chief executive officer and the chairman of ITV, criticising the broadcaster’s decision not to ban gambling ads during the football tournament that is scheduled to start in a couple of days. In a letter to the television channel, Nola Leach, the CEO of CARE urged Carolyn McCall, CEO of ITV, and Sir Peter Bazalgette, chairman of ITV, to give up gambling advertising revenue during UEFA Euro 2020.
Last week, ITV revealed that the number of gambling adverts aired on the channel would be significantly reduced. Still, the decision faced opposition, with its critics pointing out that the British broadcaster has hardly taken any real actions to limit the adverts.
According to the TV channel’s opponents, the number of gambling ads will be lower than the one seen during the 2018 World Cup but that was mainly thanks to the voluntary whistle-to-whistle ban on gambling advertising adopted by operators during live sports events aired before the 9:00 PM watershed. Such adverts are still aired after the watershed, and also in the time more than five minutes before kick-off and five minutes after the final whistle of the game.
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Ms Leach explained that as a CEO of an organisation aimed at raising people’s awareness of gambling-related harm, she was greatly disappointed by the broadcaster’s response, which has confirmed that ITV does not intend to take further action in order to reduce the number of gambling ads. CARE’s boss further noted that, if ITV truly cares about protecting vulnerable members of society that could be targeted by the gambling adverts aired on the channel, the broadcaster should reverse its decision and agree to suspend these ads.
A spokesman for ITV confirmed that there has already been a considerable reduction in the number of gambling ads aired on the channel, especially in comparison to their number during the 2018 World Cup, when almost 90 minutes of gambling adverts were run by the broadcaster. During the world football championship, a 5% increase in the number of calls by gamblers to the GamCare charity’s helpline was registered, while a 15% increase was registered in the number of calls from people who were affected by the gambling addiction of another person.
For the time being, most football matches that ITV plans to air live start between 2:00 PM and 5:00 PM, which means there will be no gambling adverts as part of the voluntary whistle-to-whistle ban, as explained by ITV. Still, the broadcaster revealed that the ban did not apply outside the so-called 5-minute buffer zone before the beginning and after the end of the game. The TV channel further shared that the remainder of the matches that are set to be broadcast would have no gambling adverts in the ad breaks before kick-off or at halftime.