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5DN breached rules by airing Coles Status Quo song Down Down, rules ACMA

Australian Radio Network station 5DN in Adelaide has been found to have breached the advertising standards code after being paid by Coles to air a new version of Status Quo’s Down Down.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority announced the breach today, the first one of new 2012 standards which state broadcasters must clearly identify when a paid advertisement is aired.

The breach involved the station playing of a three minute paid Coles commercial of the classic Status Quo song Down Down – performed by the band – with the lyrics altered to include “Down down, prices are down” used in the Coles campaign which uses the song.

The station played the song in the middle of a show and it was not explained it was a paid ad.

Coles hired the band to re-record the song, which was seen in the finale of MasterChef last year.

ACMA also investigated ARN stations in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, but was satisfied the announcers had made it clear it was a paid Coles promotion when the song was played on those stations.

“Long-form musical advertisements like this are a relatively new innovation in radio advertising,” said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman. “During the investigation, the ACMA remained conscious of the need to balance the regulatory requirements for advertising with industry’s drive for innovation and competition in radio advertising.”

ACMA’s statement also said the “licensee advised that a pre-recorded announcement was cued to play before the advertisement but a technical fault meant it didn’t go to air. Although the ACMA notes the licensee’s non-compliance was not intentional, neither the 2012 standard nor the codes provide exemption from the obligations in the case of technical difficulties.”

ARN network has since upgraded its software to prevent it happening again.

The breach was first picked up by the ABC’s Media Watch program.

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