Broadcaster ITV has been asked to suspend gambling advertisements during its coverage of England versus Denmark in an open letter from The Big Step.
Estimated to attract 20m people, including children, The Big Step – a campaign project formed and run by people who have suffered gambling harm and part of the charity Gambling with Lives – published an open letter to ITV stressing its disappointment at seeing gambling advertising during the broadcaster’s coverage of the UEFA European Football Championships.
The letter read: “We have been disappointed to see gambling advertising during ITV’s coverage of the European Championships. The promotion of addictive products will undoubtedly have caused gambling-related harms and as a charity supporting bereaved families, we know all too well the devastating damage that gambling can cause everyday. We can only hope that ITV changes its position on this to prevent further suffering for many families up and down the county.
“Despite the incessant promotion of gambling, England’s progress in the tournament has brought the country together. Like everybody, we are looking forward to seeing the team take on Denmark on Wednesday night, which is to be broadcast on ITV.
“Given that nearly 21m people watched England vs Ukraine on Saturday, it is no exaggeration to state that millions of children will be tuning in to see their heroes before, during and after this semi-final. Therefore we are requesting that ITV suspend gambling advertising for the duration of the broadcast of England v Denmark on July 7, and not just within the whistle-to-whistle timeframe.
“There is no excuse to show a single gambling advert in front of the whole country, especially when there will be such a young and susceptible audience viewing.”
The open letter comes after The Big Step urged broadcasters to suspend all UEFA European Football Championship based advertising for the duration of the tournament in May.
Sent to ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Sky Sports, BT Sport, TalkSport, Global Radio, Acast, and Stakhanov, The Big Step’s letter included signatures from Carolyn Harris MP and Ronnie Cowan MP, chair and vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm as well as Paul Blomfield, Stuart McDonald and Mark Menzies MPs.
The UEFA European Championships continues to break viewing records with England’s 4-0 victory over Ukraine going down as the most-watched live television event of the year so far on the BBC with 20.9m viewers – superseding the previous record which was set by England’s win against Germany, attracting 20.6m spectators, again on BBC.
England’s goalless draw against rivals Scotland in the second match of the group stages also became the most-watched match of the tournament at the time on ITV. The broadcaster’s exclusive coverage of the clash peaked with 20m viewers, representing 79 per cent share across ITV and STV.
Earlier in the tournament, the Three Lions’ 1-0 victory against Croatia in the group stages set a new record for BBC iPlayer, with the match streamed 3.9m times on the platform.