A group of UK activists, members of the London Visual Activist Collective (LVAC), have been making inquiries after hearing several advertisements on the UK’s Magic 105.4 Magic in the Morning radio broadcast hyping a “Win a trip to Israel” contest. Wondering if these promotions, including offering Dead Sea products as prizes, might run afoul of British broadcast laws pertaining to deceptive advertising, the activists contacted the radio station with their concerns. The promotional contest is sponsored by the Israel Government Tourist Office and Monarch Airlines.
Magic reaches 1.96 million listeners every week tuning in, for a total of 10.4 million hours every week. It is a commercial market leader in adult audience, and is owned by Bauer Media, a European based media conglomerate.
Magic’s morning show already sent a team to Israel, likely at the invitation of the sponsoring parties:
The contest, prominently displayed on the radio station’s homepage, asks applicants to answer a qualifying question to enter the competition. In March of this year the UK watchdog Advertising Standards Authority(ASA) banned an Israeli Ministry of Tourism advertisement for violating the British advertising rules, called the Cap Code, for suggesting that the Old City of Jerusalem was part of Israel. The original verdict was later rescinded but activists are not backing down. Magic 105.4‘s initial qualifying question for the contest strongly suggested Jerusalem was the capitol of Israel:
Someone from LVAC contacted the radio station:
What are you going to do about all the people that answered ‘Jerusalem’ to enter your Israel competition? As you are aware under International Law Jerusalem is not and cannot be recognized as Israel’s capital. There are strict rules governing competitions on Radio and TV. We believe you are in danger of breaching those rules by accepting incorrect answers as correct. But on the other hand it’s not fair to those people as the question was heavily weighted in order that people say Jerusalem.
Also are you offering Dead Sea products as prizes? I expect a speedy response on this please.
The radio station did not initially respond to the inquiry but shortly thereafter the qualifying question changed:
One of the LVAC activists, who prefers to remain anonymous, informed Mondoweiss that as well as changing the qualifying question, the radio station promptly deleted all the comments responding to the contest and promotions on the comment thread and then removed the comment section entirely. Claiming Magic was “conducting damage limitation already”, the activist explained:
All those who answered ‘Jerusalem’ in response to the qualifying question are actually incorrect and Magic cannot enter them into the competition. They have breached the rules regarding ‘Competitions’. Yet they have not confirmed to us whether they have removed those entrants.
Activists tweeted Magic screenshots of United Nations Security Council Resolution 478, one of seven UNSC resolutions condemning Israel’s attempted annexation of East Jerusalem and condemning “Israel’s 1980 Jerusalem Law which declared Jerusalem to be Israel‘s “complete and united” capital, as a violation of international law.”
Not hearing back from the Magic, LVAC activists made a formal complaint to UK communications regulator Ofcom, UK watchdog Advertising Standards Authority(ASA), and Palestine Mission in London (the highest-level representation of the Palestinian government in the UK ) and informed Magic of these notifications. Adding:
I would also like to take this opportunity to inform you that if any of your prizes involve travel to parts that are illegally occupied then this will also be deemed to be very provocative and a serious political issue.
This included visits to tunnels underneath (but not limited to) the holy Al Aqsa compound and the village of Silwan.