Rabat – HACA has reviewed TV advertising statistics for the month of Ramadan this year, finding “a number” of advertising standard breaches. The authority has not yet pointed the finger at any particular TV station, but has warned that sanctions may be the only way forward.The concern relates to the number of advertisements shown on TV during Ramadan, in particular at the time of “iftar,” the meal taken after sunset prayer to break the fast. Iftar is prime advertising time, as families across Morocco come together to share a meal, many in front of a TV. Moroccan media law states that TV advertising spots must not last more than 6 minutes, and must be broadcast more than 20 minutes apart. A breach of this leads to a “concentration of advertisements prejudicial to the comfort of viewers,” explained HACA in a press release on July 24.HACA has enforced the law. Last year, HACA fined Moroccan public broadcasting station Al Aoula and state-owned 2M for showing too many ads, at too short an interval during the month of Ramadan. Al Aoula was fined MAD 800,000 for a number of breaches including showing up to 17 minutes worth of advertisements in an hour, with some advertising spots being shown three minutes apart. Al Aoula was fined for similar breaches in 2013 and 2016.HACA fined 2M MAD 3 million last year for up to 280 breaches during Ramadan. The TV station’s breaches included showing 27 minutes of advertisements in one hour. Some ad spots were shown just 32 seconds apart. HACA has fined 2M for six years in a row.In its press release yesterday, HACA warns the problem of breaches is deep-rooted and raises broader concerns in relation to Morocco’s media.“The problem raises questions regarding the reality of the financing of public audiovisual companies as well as their economic model. The level of their dependence on advertising resources is irreconcilable with the importance of their obligations of public service,” HACA said. Exactly what sanctions HACA may impose on TV stations this year remains to be seen.
A petition calling for a ban on shops opening on Boxing Day has attracted more than 200,000 signatures – including 100,000 over the last three days.The petition was created last month by Ian Lapworth, a baker and former DJ from Kettering, who argues that the Christmas holiday should be respected by retailers so that staff can have “some decent family time to relax and enjoy the festivities like everyone else.”Writing on Change.org, where the petition is hosted, Mr Lapworth says: “Most retail workers are on the go up to Christmas Eve, then back on Boxing Day. Sometimes they have no choice.”We managed 30 and 40 years ago when shops were sometimes shut for a whole week. Let’s get back to the way it was.”Forget making money for one day, let’s concentrate on making more memories with the ones we love.”Among the petitions’ thousands of signatories are a large number of retail workers, many of whom left messages voicing their agreement. Mr Lapworth plans to send the petition to the 10 Downing Street – but there are indications his plea will not be successful.A similar petition launched last year, also calling for shops to remain closed on Boxing Day, received an official response from the Government saying: “We do not believe it is for central Government to tell businesses how to run their shops or how best to serve their customers. Therefore we are not proposing to ban shops from opening on Boxing Day.” Hollie Lambton from Kimberley wrote: “Every year I’ve been working, I’ve had to work Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. I’m fed up of it.”I have family traditions that I can’t do anymore and I want things to go back the way they used to be. Shops should be shut for a week or at least Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.” Elaine Wormald from South Kirkby said: “I used to work in a shop the was open until 10pm on Xmas eve, closed on Xmas day and open again at 10 am Boxing day. It is so unfair on the staff lots of whom would prefer to stay at home with their young families.”If all the stores agreed not to open on Boxing day then none of them are losing any trade to another store. Common sense really, but when did that ever matter to money grabbing store owners.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.