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Calls for inquiry after Ofcom ruling on Tower Hamlets Mayor’s adverts

10:26 24 January 2013

Labour councillors have called for an investigation after Ofcom censured five television channels for carrying advertisements amounting to party political broadcasts for Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman.

The advertisements, which Labour say were paid for using council money, was taken out for two weeks in January 2012 and was broadcast as many as 15 times a day across five channels.

It featured photographs of Mayor Rahman in the cab of a digger and inspecting a flat, and outlined his aims for improving the borough’s housing situation. His signature and title were also shown prominently on screen throughout the 30 second broadcast.

Tower Hamlets Labour group is now pressing for a full investigation into the matter.

“It is seriously concerning that yet more taxpayer money has been wasted promoting the Mayor’s personal agenda” Labour group leader Cllr Joshua Peck said.

“Local residents will want to know how their council tax was allowed to be used for the Mayor’s personal media coverage - that is why we have demanded a full investigation including how the council allowed these illegal adverts to be produced and issued.”

Conservative group leader Cllr Peter Golds has also raised concerns to Ofcom about the political allegiances of Bangladeshi media outlets.

In a ruling published earlier this week, Ofcom said: “The purpose of the advertisement was not to inform and educate the public.

“Ofcom considered that the purpose of the advertisement was to promote the Mayor in a positive light. The advertisement plainly sought to convey the aspirations of Mayor, Mr Rahman.”

The stations which carried the advertisement were Channel S; NTV; Channel I; Bangla TV; and ATN Bangla. All of the channels refuted the accusation of a breach of the code.

Tower Hamlets Council declined to comment, but submitted to Ofcom that it complied with guidelines.

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