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O2 removes advert with strobe lighting after people with photosensitive epilepsy raise concerns

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Mandy Ryan

O2 removes advert with strobe lighting after people with photosensitive epilepsy raise concerns

The phone network O2 has let us know that they will no longer be screening their most recent advert, ‘Only on priority’, after many people with photosensitive epilepsy raised concerns that the strobe lighting that appears from the beginning could trigger seizures.

The advert, which features gig-goers dancing at a concert, had passed the Harding test for photosensitive epilepsy and been cleared for commercial broadcast by Clearcast. However, after being contacted by the Epilepsy Society and many people in our community who were worried, including some who had unfortunately had a seizure after watching the advert, they decided to take a cautious approach and take it off air.

All TV programme content in the UK is covered by Ofcom regulations, which aim to keep people safe by restricting the flash rate to three per second or less, as well as restricting the area of screen allowed for flashing lights or alternating patterns. Clearcast reviews all adverts before they air to ensure they meet Harding test standards.

If you’re ever concerned about an advert, or any form of programming that may feature flashing images without a reasonable warning, the best route to raise your concerns is by going through the brand or channel’s social media platforms, or their official complaints process. You can also let us know through our social media or helpline, and we can contact the companies directly if appropriate.

Photosensitive epilepsy is thankfully rare, affecting an estimated 5 per cent of people with epilepsy. Triggers are individual, but there are steps that people with photosensitive epilepsy can take to reduce risks as fully as they can, such as using flatscreen TVs and computer monitors, taking regular breaks from the screen, and using settings to control moving images in their default internet browser.

We have more information on photosensitive epilepsy here.




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