"Frightening" advert cannot be shown before 7.30pm watershed, says ASA
An advert for video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 cannot be broadcast before 7.30pm in the UK because of its "frightening" content.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the adverts for the PEGI 18+ rated game had been shown at 2.30pm during a Premier League football game, which it deemed an "inappropriate" time.
One person said the scenes of major world cities under military assault, with buildings ablaze, soldiers loading guns and tanks driving down streets, had frightened their young children.
The advertising watchdog agreed it was possible that only a small proportion of viewers would have been children.
However, it reiterated that adverts for computer games with an age rating of 18+, 16+ or 15+ cannot be broadcast in or around programmes "commissioned for, principally directed at, or likely to appeal" to, persons below the age of 16.
With retailers facing stiff fines and even jail for ignoring game age ratings, Nina Best, an expert in advertising law at Browne Jacobson, said the ASA was "greatly" influenced by the media and public opinion, adding that criticism of the level of violence in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 would have been a key factor in the watchdog's decision.
"Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has received significant attention following the actions of mass killers Anders Brevik and Mohammed Merah being linked to playing the violent video game. So it is difficult to see how the watchdog could have reached any other ruling than to ban its broadcast before 7.30pm," she said.
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