Television exec predicts that ‘whistle to whistle’ sports advertising ban on TV will have little impact

News on 11 Dec 2018

The chief executive of the Sky UK and Ireland television network, Stephen van Rooyen, appears unimpressed by plans for gambling companies to reduce television advertising on a “whistle to whistle” basis during live sports events, judging by a personal letter he has penned which has received wide media coverage in the UK.

The television executive believes a television reduction in advertising alone will have little impact in reducing the dangers that gambling poses, and he points to verified and relevant facts that show the “inconvenient truth” that the reality of betting advertising expenditure is that money spent on gambling marketing online is five times that of TV, and the amount of cash spent promoting gambling on social media has more than tripled over the past three years.

“If the Remote Gaming Association and gambling companies are serious about protecting vulnerable gamblers, then they should start by looking at where they spend the most money, what has the least level of regulation and where there is most evidence of harm: the online world,” Van Rooyen wrote in a letter to The Times newspaper.

He suggests that that the Association should seek to close the gap in standards that exists between the highly regulated TV sector and current unregulated online marketing practices undertaken by gambling sector incumbents.

Sky announced earlier this year (see previous reports) that it will significantly reduce its advertising output of betting/gambling related adverts starting next year. This includes a protocol whereby only one betting/gambling advert will be broadcast per commercial break.

Sky UK is further developing new ‘ad-block’ capabilities through its AdSmart technology, and by 2020 will empower its audiences to block gambling-content on Sky and Virgin Media digital platforms.

“The irony is that TV advertising is already highly regulated, with rules around exposing inappropriate advertising to minors and limiting when and how often gambling ads can be seen,” van Rooyen opined. “This is not the case online.

“If the RGA plan is implemented, then spend would simply shift even further online, with smartphones, tablets and computers targeted with even greater precision. This doesn’t feel like a good outcome for anyone except gambling firms and online tech platforms.”

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