Virgin Media rapped by ASA over "misleading" broadband ad

Regulator takes issue with broadband provider's "no more buffering" claims.

Broadband speed

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has rapped Virgin Media for making misleading claims about its broadband speeds.

The regulator said it received 18 complaints about an advert featuring former Doctor Who star David Tennant, which claimed users of its superfast fibre-optic broadband service will not be blighted by buffering when watching online videos.

The ASA has ruled the claim as misleading and said it violated three sections of the BCAP code.

Buffering would be less likely with fibre-optic broadband but not entirely absent.

Virgin Media responded to the ruling by stating that its broadband services substantiated the advert's claims.

"[Virgin Media] said that speeds of between 1.5 and 4Mb/s were required to stream video content for services...and by providing a consistent download speed above that, Virgin Media's services could support video streaming services with a greater likelihood that customers would not experience buffering," said the company in the adjudication document.

Virgin Media pointed out that other factors, including the limitations of users' hardware and the site they were visiting, could cause buffering.

It also argued that the wording in the ad said users "could" say goodbye to buffering, not can, which should absolve it of guilt.

"[The company] believed this would be understood as a claim that buffering would be less likely with fibre-optic broadband but not that it would be entirely absent," it added.

However, the ASA said the "ambiguity" in the way the claim was presented means the advert was misleading and that viewers may not be aware of the other factors that could lead to buffering.

As a result, the ASA has ruled the advert should not appear in its current form again.

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