Entertainment & Arts

Channel 4 reprimanded for 'distressing' Fear The Walking Dead ad

Frank Dillane as Nick in Fear the Walking Dead Image copyright AMC
Image caption Fear The Walking Dead is the story of survival during a zombie apocalypse

Channel 4 has been censured for showing a "distressing" advert for zombie drama Fear The Walking Dead during animated children's film Rango.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld three complaints about the ad, which was shown twice on a Sunday afternoon in April.

It showed glimpses of eerie figures and panicking crowds, accompanied by sirens and other dramatic sound effects.

Channel 4 apologised and said it was improving its procedures.

Fear The Walking Dead depicts the onset of a zombie apocalypse, and the offending commercial was encouraging viewers to watch the first season on Amazon Prime.

The advert was screened during breaks in Rango, an animation about a pet chameleon who becomes a sheriff in the Wild West, which was watched by 927,000 viewers - including 150,000 aged between four and nine.

'Sensitive scheduling'

The content of the ad "created a build-up of suspense that could be distressing to younger children, but that would not be unsuitable for older children to see", the ASA said.

The advert had been cleared by Clearcast, a company that approves ads for Channel 4 and other commercial broadcasters, with no timing restriction.

But Clearcast added an advisory recommending the channel might want to view it to decide whether it was suitable for viewers aged under nine.

Channel 4's internal systems failed to flag this up, meaning it was not assessed for its suitability for young children.

The ASA ruling said: "Channel 4 apologised for any distress this error may have caused and stated that they took their responsibilities as a broadcaster very seriously and were taking steps to improve how the application of timing restrictions were managed."

The regulator has told Channel 4 to ensure ads that may cause distress to younger children were "sensitively scheduled" in future.

"We acknowledged that Channel 4 was now taking steps to improve how they applied timing restrictions and such advice in their future scheduling of ads," the ASA said.

A Channel 4 spokesman said: "We take our responsibilities as a broadcaster very seriously and we are putting measures in place to prevent this from happening again."

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