CNN-YouTube debate broke Ofcom rules

CNN broke British broadcasting regulations when it screened a debate that looked like it was sponsored by YouTube, Ofcom has ruled.

The debate, which aired during the Copenhagen summit on climate change last December, featured not only experts including Kofi Annan, Thomas Friedman and... um, Daryl Hannah, but also videos created by YouTube users.

The YouTube logo appeared prominently throughout, which Ofcom decided broke the rules about commercial sponsorship of current affairs programs.

CNN had not been paid to plug the Google-owned web site, but had contractually committed to feature its logo prominently.

Bizarrely, CNN tried to argue that climate change "falls within the lifestyle genre rather than the current affairs genre" on the grounds that some of the YouTube users had sung songs or read poems.

But Ofcom wasn't buying it, and ruled CNN in breach of the broadcasting code.

The regulator also expressed concern that, when the debate was being made, CNN had apparently failed to consider that it would also be broadcast in the UK as well as its native US.