Sky win fight over Virgin ads
Continuing the feud between Virgin and Sky, following failure to find agreement over the basic Sky channels that used to be available to Virgin Media customers, Sky have taken Virgin to the ASA over misleading advertising. The adverts in question are headlined "The real deal" and feature a comparison of Sky's and Virgin's TV, broadband and telephone services, bringing to light how much better the Virgin service supposedly is.
The advert featured mainly a table of comparisons between Sky and Virgin products. The comparison of broadband weighted Virgin's 2Mbps connection with Sky's 8Mbps claiming for Virgin:
"Up to 2Mb with as many downloads as you want"
But for Sky:
"They say it's up to 8Mb but the further you live from the exchange the slower it gets. And they decide how much you can download"
Whilst there is some truth to their claims, the main problem is what they leave out.
Sky do impose a 40GB (gigabyte) maximum download limit on their 8Mbps customers to help manage bandwidth, where as Virgin impose a 350MB (megabyte) limit before reducing the speed of their customers by half (more on Virgin's traffic shaping here). The ASA looked at the issue comparing, in Sky's case, the reduction in bandwidth over distance to the exchange with contending of bandwidth in the local access network for Virgin; a problem DSL doesn't suffer from as it uses a dedicated link from the end user to the exchange.
Sky also questioned why Virgin didn't compare the Sky 2Mbps product against Virgin's. The 2Mbps product works over a longer distance, and as such, less people are affected by the reduction in speed as experienced on the 8Mbps product. Virgin claimed they were unaware that Sky offered such a product.
The ASA concluded that all 6 of the complaints against the adverts were valid, and upheld them telling Virgin not to repeat the ads and advised them to seek help from the CAP (Committee of Advertising Practice) Copy Advice team. Full details of the adjudication can be found on the ASA website.