HK radio stations warned over "misleading" Uber ads

Hong Kong Commercial Broadcasting and Metro Broadcast received a warning from local media watchdog The Communications Authority (CA) for running 'misleading' radio commercials for car hailing company Uber last year.

The CA said it had received 11 complaint cases for Uber's radio advertisements broadcast on the CR 1 and CR 2 channels of Hong Kong Commercial Broadcasting between May and October last year, which encopeople to become Uber drivers or ride as passengers.

The complaints said the ad encouraged people to use a service "which was alleged to be illegal" and that the advertisement was misleading as "it was illegal to drive a vehicle for the carriage of passengers for hire or reward without a hire car permit and third party risks insurance"; and that the station should not broadcast the advertisement given that all radio advertisements should be legal.

Regarding the complaints against Commercial Radio, the watchdog said given the government’s proclamations on different occasions and the then on-going court cases involving seven drivers, who were arrested in August 2015 for providing the advertiser’s service and were subsequently charged with a single count of “driving a motor vehicle for the carriage of passengers for hire or reward” and a single count of “using on a road a motor vehicle without third party risks insurance”.

The CA found the complaints to be “justified” and breached the Radio Advertising Code. The authority warned the radio station to observe the code “more closely”.

A separate complaint was also filed against Metro Finance radio for an Uber advertisement on 16 October 2016 stating that drivers and passengers using the service would be covered by a global insurance policy.

The authority said the ad may have misled listeners, who were encouraged to use the service, about the statutory requirements (including those regarding third party risks insurance), which was in breach of paragraph 9(c) of the Radio Advertising Code.

The CA decided that Metro should be strongly advised to observe more closely the relevant provisions in the Radio Advertising Code which should "prevent the presentation of false, misleading or deceptive advertising".