ASA bans BT sports ads for misleading price claims

A number of ads for BT Sport have been banned for making misleading price claims. The campaign, including newspaper and television ads, all referred to the telecoms operator’s Champions League coverage and said BT Sport was “free” for those signing up to or renewing broadband and TV packages.

However the ads drew 26 complaints, almost all from members of the public and Sky who said the claim that BT Sport was “free” was misleading because consumers were required to sign up to contracts to obtain it.

BT said the ads made clear the costs consumers would be liable for when taking advantage of the free offer by setting out the requirement to re-contract.

But it said it was prepared to consider making the information more prominent, for example by including it above the small print in all ads.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) acknowledged that BT was willing to amend the ads, but said consumers who already had BT TV were likely to understand that they could receive BT Sport Europe for free and without the need to make any additional commitment when this was not the case.

It also found the ads did not make sufficiently clear the extent of the commitment each of the different categories of consumers needed to make to take advantage of the free offer.

The ASA said: “We told BT to ensure their future ads made clear the extent of the commitment consumers must make to take advantage of a free offer and that price claims were not misleading, and were not contradicted.”

BT, which paid £897 million to show the games for three years, said: “BT is pleased that the ASA is satisfied that we were correct to advertise that the BT Sport Pack is free with BT TV.

“The complaints upheld against BT relate to the way in which we informed existing customers that they would need to sign a new broadband contract to get the best price.

“The ASA also believes that we should have been clearer about the costs for new customers – even though the ads were targeted at existing BT customers – which is not something ISPs have previously been required to do.

“We are happy to address these concerns and make any necessary small changes.”