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BT Sport 'free' ads could face probe

BT’s multi-million campaign to back the launch of its Sports channel could be investigated by the advertising watchdog after tens of complaints its claim to offer “free” Premier League games is misleading.

BT Sport ad

The media company announced last week it was to offer BT Sport -which will show 38 exclusive live Premier League football matches a season - free to those already paying for its broadband service and £12 per month to everyone else. It is being backed by ads starring footballers including Manchester United’s Robin van Persie and Spurs’ Gareth Bale that claims broadband customers can watch for free.

The Advertising Standards Authority has received 21 complaints the claim the channel, and therefore the matches shown, is free is misleading because new customers pay a monthly fee for broadband usage, line rental, and a one-off fee for a hub.

No decision on whether to launch a formal investigation has been made yet but if the complaints are investigated and the claim is found to be misleading, BT Sport could be forced to remove or clarify its ‘free’ positioning.

A spokesman for BT says: “The ASA has not raised any complaints with BT about our advertising for BT Sport.”

The news BT’s campaign has attracted complaints will be welcomed by Sky. Marketing chief Stephen van Rooyen last week dismissed the ads as an attempt to “stem the flow of customers who’ve switched in their millions to rivals like Sky over the past few years”.

Readers' comments (8)

  • Absolutely no different to mobile phone companies giving you a 'free' handset with a £30 a month tariff. I think people are wise enough to understand the offer, and if you have a Sky system, you only need to pay line rental and broadband anyone. It's as free as you're going to get.

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  • It's not quite the same. The "free" handset is yours to keep at the end of your minimum contract, to use on another tariff. The "free" BT Sport channels require ongoing payment for broadband services, no matter how long you have previously been a subscriber for.

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  • It clearly shows, per the image, that it's free when you have something worse.

    Much worse is Virgin Media doing a headline price of £15, then saying you must to buy an £85 phone line in the small print. Okay I exaggerate slightly, but it's true.

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  • What worse is if you are a current BT customer, already paying for Broadband and youview and you live in an area not covered by BT Infinity. You will not get the Sports channels, however BT will gladly sell you another box (BT Vision Box) to replace the youview box that is only 5 months old for another one off £50 fee. Very annoying.

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  • As a current BT customer with Infinity I am being told I still need to pay for a new box , when i expressed surpise they said I should check the small print. Great customer service NOT!

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  • Yes, I have been a BT Broadband customer for a while and when I called up for my "Free" BT Sport, I was told I would have to hire a BT Vision box at £5 per month to receive "Free" BT Sport. Totally misleading..they should get rid of the word "Free".

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  • I have been with BT broadband from the outset. I have always been opposed to Sky however since BT are not to be trusted I will approach Sky for an estimate, even if I have to pay a bit more. Appalling behaviour from a business with such loyal customers.

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  • All I know is they say on the advert "free with Bt broadband" but when I phoned they said I had to have sky or Bt vision, which costs either 5 or 12 quid a month for one year and a 50 installation charge, none of which is mentioned in the advert

    That my friends, is false advertisement

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