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Fri 31 Aug 2018 12:44 AM

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UK regulator says Saudi TV advert 'breached rules'

UK's Ofcom rules that one-minute TV ad promoting Saudi Arabia must not be shown again on British television

UK regulator says Saudi TV advert 'breached rules'
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images)

Ofcom, the UK's broadcasting regulator, has ruled that a TV advert for Saudi Arabia breached its rules on political advertising.

The advert, which ran on the Sky 1 channel, promoted the country's Vision 2030 reform agenda and featured images of women driving and cinemas opening.

Ofcom said promoting the reforms and UK-Saudi links ignored "heightened public controversy" about the issues, the BBC reported.

No fine has been levied but Ofcom said Sky cannot repeat the one-minute adverts which ran in March, ahead of a visit to the UK by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The adverts were paid for by an arm of the country's ministry of culture and information.

Part of the adverts said: "Things are undoubtedly changing in Saudi Arabia... Key world partnerships are at the heart of this shift, mainly with the United Kingdom."

The modernisation drive is being led by Crown Prince Mohammed, who is seeking to balance unpopular subsidy cuts in an era of low oil prices with more entertainment options - despite opposition from religious hardliners.

The reform stems partly from an economic motive to boost domestic spending on entertainment as the kingdom reels from a protracted slump in oil prices.