Hutchison rapped for video quality in ads

Video calling ad more likely to have been "breaking up" and "washed out"
Written by Tony Hallett, Contributor

Video calling ad more likely to have been "breaking up" and "washed out"

Third-generation pioneer 3, Hutchison's UK arm, has fallen foul of an advertising ruling on the difference between the visual quality of advertised services and those that end users typically experience. The UK's Independent Television Commission (ITC) received complaints from five viewers following one of 3's early TV ads. It featured video calling, though arguably the most memorable of 3's first campaign featured a Michael Owen goal as part of a teaser for clips from Premiership matches. The ITC upheld the complaints - which officially breach ITC Code Rule 5.4.1 - because "advertising for both video calling and video messaging showed a quality of picture that was superior to what the handset was able to deliver in tests". The ITC specifically examined downloading video clips, video messaging and video calling. On the latter, its statement today said: "Compared with the commercial, the sound and video image were disjointed and subject to breaking up. The colour was washed out and low in contrast and picture definition was not as clear as in the commercial." A spokesman for 3 said: "We have worked with the ITC to address their concerns and already implemented solutions in advance. Our only intention was to convey the excitement of mobile video services." Ever since the first commercial video 3G services were launched around the world - and on the W-CDMA standard there are only a few in countries such as Japan, Italy and the UK - there has been concern that quality of service will take time. It is nothing new for providers of streaming services - over PCs or mobile devices - to show jerk-free, high-quality images, whether advertising on TV or another online medium. However, an operator such as 3 must also bear in mind that what consumers see over their televisions is immediately degraded because it is delivered over another, much larger screen. As such, they may think it is justifiable to show content at higher frame-per-second rates. Hutchison told the ITC that it had shown content slowed down to a 15 frames per second rate but the ITC said the actual frame rate for video calling and messaging was 6 frames per second in their tests. Despite investigating to that level, the ITC concluded: "What matters is not technical details of this kind but the overall impression given to viewers." Subsequent TV advertising by 3 is known to have opted for a more realistic representation of mobile video services' quality.
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