Broadband ads row continues as Sky joins the list

Sky is the latest broadband provider to have one of its ads banned by the ad watchdog for misleading claims.

The spot in question was one of several featuring Lego Batman, the star of the construction toy/superhero crossover movie released earlier this year.

It promoted "Super-fast Sky Fibre … It’s the UK’s lowest priced fibre including line rental." But one person complained that unlike all but two of the 32 rival products it was being compared to, Sky’s basic fibre product had a usage cap, meaning the comparison was misleading.

Another two people said that on-screen text, which clarified the price claim and gave terms and conditions, was too small to read, which also made the claim misleading.

Sky said the claim was solely about price, meaning the usage cap was immaterial to the comparison. But the Advertising Standards Authority disagreed, saying consumers would assume the comparison was between "broadly equivalent" products.

The watchdog also said that while the on-screen text was big enough to meet BCAP guidelines, it was against a light background and difficult to make out. It ruled the ad breached the BCAP Code on misleading advertising and qualification, and ordered that it not be shown again.

Broadband ad ban wars

Sky broadband last faced an ad ban in April 2015, after rival Virgin Media queried its claim that the service had 99.9% reliability.

Both of Sky’s two largest rivals have since found themselves in the naughty seat. Last February, Virgin Media was rapped over an ad starring Usain Bolt that made misleading claims about the speed of its broadband – the second time an ad featuring the Olympic sprinting champion had been banned for this reason, after one in 2014.

That decision came about after BT and Sky that Virgin’s claims could not be substantiated. But Virgin got its own back in October, when BT was hit with a similar ruling in its ad with Ryan Reynolds.

New rules came into force in October specifying how broadband providers advertised their prices. And last month, the Committees of Advertising Practice launched a consultation into new rules around how speed is advertised.