ITC rules to restrict DoT fire plan ads to later evening spots

The Independent Television Commission has upheld complaints that Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper's fire safety campaign for the Department of Transport is too frightening for children.

The campaign was designed to increase fire awareness in the light of the firefighters' strike and encouraged people to make an escape plan in the event of a fire. It was broadcast largely in daytime and featured images of people trapped in their home. One scene showed two young children in a smoke-filled bedroom crying for their dad. Another execution showed an elderly woman banging on her door for help.

The ITC received seven complaints from viewers that their children had been affected by the ads. Three of the children suffered nightmares and one started wetting the bed again after a break of two years. Another child refused to sleep alone and had to sleep in his parent's bed, while a six-year-old was unable to go into any room alone, even the toilet, despite his parent's reassurances.

The DoT, which was responsible for the campaign, defended the scheduling of the ads by claiming that the elderly, the poor and ethnic minorities had the lowest awareness of fire safety but the greater propensity to watch daytime television. The BACC had agreed and approved the ad on the proviso that it was not scheduled in children's programming.

However, the ITC ruled that the ad was too disturbing for daytime transmission.

It was therefore decided that the campaign could only be broadcast after 7.30pm.