BBC World News, CNBC and CNN International breached current affairs sponsorship and funding rules according to UK media watchdog Ofcom.
A report published on Monday following a four year investigation found that the news channels used content provided by “third-party funders” between 2009 and 2011, a practice which the watchdog claims could “carry inherent risk to independence and editorial integrity”.
Almost 50 pieces of content were flagged due to a failure to label that they were provided or paid for by third parties. The arrangement crossed Ofcom rules stating sponsored content should be clearly announced.
A BBC spokesperson told the Guardian: “The BBC Trust investigated these issues in 2011 and we apologised to viewers on air in February 2012. We introduced a number of changes to our procedures to strengthen the protection of our editorial integrity at the time and a subsequent audit concluded that the measures were robust and working well
“We accept Ofcom’s findings and wish to re-iterate our commitment to the highest standards of broadcasting.”
CNN also acknowledged the findings: "Ofcom found that we have been completely transparent with our audience in the labelling of our sponsored content. In addition, it has been established that all CNN International’s content continues to comply with our high standards of impartiality.
“We do, however, recognise and accept that a very small portion of our sponsored content fell under what Ofcom categorises as current affairs, which under UK regulations may not be sponsored.”
The investigation was the watchdog’s largest to date, detailed over 1,000 broadcasts in more than 200 countries from the three news channels.