Xbox hit by UK ad ban

Regulator gives a thumbs-down to a Microsoft advert for the Xbox that left some viewers shocked and offended

The Independent Television Commission (ITC) has slammed an advertisement for Microsoft's Xbox console as "shocking", and banned the commercial from UK television.

The ad begins with a newborn child flying through a window before ageing decades in a few seconds and crashing, screaming, into a grave as an elderly man. It was designed to illustrate the phrase: "Life is short. Play more."

The ITC -- which has the power to ban adverts that it believes are unsuitable to be shown onscreen -- received 136 complaints about the advert, including some from recently bereaved viewers.

The Guardian Unlimited Web site reports that the ITC has also expressed its displeasure to the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre, which had approved the Xbox advert.

In its ruling, published this week, the ITC said that "The man's screams throughout his life's journey suggested a traumatic experience, which, together with the reminder that life is short, made the final scene more shocking."

Microsoft has issued a statement, in response to the ITC's ruling, in which it apologises to anyone who was offended or upset by the advert. The company is expected to continue showing the advert in cinemas, though, which are not regulated by the ITC. The advertisement can also be viewed on the Web site, where there is a warning about its "potentially shocking and disturbing nature."

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