The Market Court has prohibited DNA Ltd from marketing its pay TV services on television because the ads did not state clearly the nature and total price of the service as well as the campaign duration.
In its TV advertisements of the DNA Welho pay TV channel package, DNA Ltd provided key information on the service in small print at the bottom of the screen. Therefore, the viewer could not unambiguously establish whether the pay TV package agreement was in force for a fixed term or until further notice, and what its total price was.
According to the Finnish Consumer Protection Act, the vendor must ensure that the consumer gets clear information of the marketed service and its price. The provision of unclear and misleading information is prohibited. For this reason, the use of small print has been prohibited by the decisions of both the Market Court and the Supreme Court of Finland. In spite of this, companies have continued to use the small print.
In the summer of 2013, the Consumer Ombudsman paid attention to DNA’s advertisement of a pay TV channel package as part of its monitoring campaign on TV advertisements. Consequently, the Consumer Ombudsman imposed a marketing ban on DNA for unclear provision of information. Since the company opposed the injunction, it became void.
The Consumer Ombudsman then started proceedings in the Market Court for a resolution to the case. By its decision issued on 29 August 2014, the Market Court prohibited DNA from marketing its pay TV service to consumers at a certain price without simultaneously clearly stating the total price of the service. In the case of a fixed-term contract, the advertisement must also specify the minimum duration of the contract. Furthermore, the vendor cannot make an offer without clearly stating the duration of the campaign. The Market Court’s prohibition must be immediately observed.
The Market Court’s decision is not legally valid and can be appealed against in the Supreme Court of Finland. The time limit for seeking permission to appeal against the decision and filing the appeal will expire on 28 October 2014.
Market Court Decision, MAO:605/14 (in finnish)
The Consumer Ombudsman took DNA to Market Court for small print – marketing bans for Elisa, Santander and Delta Motor (FCCA press release of 17 October 2013)