An advertising campaign by Virgin Media that promoted broadband download times for TV shows and music has been banned after rival internet provider British Telecom (BT) complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that the speeds quoted were inaccurate.
The national press ad, which ran with the headline 'Hate To Wait', featured a table with download times for TV shows and music tracks based on different broadband packages offered by Virgin Media. The credibility of the ad was questioned by British Telecom, claiming that the download speeds quoted in the ad were misleading because Virgin Media's traffic management policy capped downloading speeds at peak times.
The download limits were imposed between 4pm and 9pm and threshold levels were graduated based on whether users had, say, 2Mb or 20Mb connections. Customers with faster internet connections had higher threshold levels as they upload and download more content, said Virgin Media. The ad claimed that customers with 'M' package (up to 2 Mb) could download a song in 22 seconds and a TV show in under 26 minutes.
But the ASA said the ad did not clarify that the 26 minute download time was only possible during off-peak hours, or that by downloading one full TV show in peak hours customers would automatically be in breach of the download limits for the M package.The ASA said that the ad should have contained some reference to the fact that the speeds quoted were only achievable at certain times .
The ASA noted that only a "small proportion" of Virgin Media customers had been subject to its traffic management policy.
However, the regulator concluded that it would "not be unreasonable for readers to be able to download at least one half-hour TV show on the M package, or several half-hour TV shows on the L package" during the five hour peak time period without triggering the speed management system.
Because this was not the case, the ASA considered the ad misleading and told Virgin Media to make sure future ads showed that download times would be restricted during peak hours.