UK Horror Star's Anti Vivisection Ad Banned

LONDON, United Kingdom, December 5, 2000 (ENS) - UK radio authorities have banned a series of ads by an animal welfare group deeming them too political. The ads feature movie star Christopher Lee warning that donations to the British Heart Foundation (BHF) "cause suffering and death for not one, but thousands."

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) claims BHF continues to fund tests on animals.


Star of 250 movie and TV productions, Christopher Lee. (Photos courtesy PETA)
Founded in 1961, the BHF is the UK's leading heart charity, funding research into the causes, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease. It provides support and information to heart patients and their families through BHF nurses, rehabilitation programs and support groups.

"The giving public deserves to know how their donations are spent," said PETA's Andrew Butler.

"Silencing Christopher Lee's magnificent voice denies people the knowledge that they can choose from scores of cruelty free health charities which fund only humane, effective non-animal research."

The 78 year old Lee has appeared in more than 250 film and TV productions, many of them horror classics. In the ad, he tells listeners, "When you donate money to the British Heart Foundation (BHF), you help fund cruel, pointless experiments on animals. Please donít support any charity that kills."

"Your contribution should help end suffering - not cause it."

The UK's Radio Advertising Clearance Centre (RACC) said the ads breached several rules in the Radio Authority Advertising and Sponsorship Code.

The RACC is commercial radio's advertising clearance body. It clears national and regional campaigns and special category advertisements for broadcast, by checking that they comply with the Radio Authority's Advertising and Sponsorship Code.

It cited rule 9A of the code, which says, "No advertisement may be broadcast by, or on behalf of, any body whose objects are wholly or mainly of a political nature, and no advertisement may be directed towards any political end."

It points to rule 15 of the code, which states that "Advertisements must not unfairly attack or discredit other products, advertisers or advertisements directly or by implication."

PETA's special projects coordinator Claudia Tarry has written to the Radio Advertising Clearance Centre, disputing both points.

"Our ad has no political message whatsoever," wrote Tarry. "It is purely an educational ad, aimed at raising people's awareness about where their money goes when they donate to the British Heart Foundation, it does not lobby for change on behalf of the government or even the BHF."


PETA argues that the British Heart Foundation's tests on animals are unnecessary because alternatives exist.
"The ad does not unfairly attack the British Heart Foundation, it simply tells the truth. Pointing out a fact which the BHF would rather keep secret, that they fund animal research, will only be seen as discrediting by those who oppose animal experiments.

"Certainly these people have a right to know that their money will be used to harm animals before they give to the BHF."

The letter, dated today, calls on the Centre to reconsider the ban.

PETA planned to launch a health charities campaign, by running the ads on UK radio during the run up to Christmas. The group claims several UK charities fund tests in which animals are given heart attacks and painful electric shocks.

PETA argues that the experiments are unnecessary because more sophisticated and species-specific research methods exist. A virtual dog heart, available from Physiome Sciences, can precisely simulate the electrical activities of individual cells and show how they are affected by chemicals and arrhythmia, says PETA.

"Simulations like these help researchers test drugs without harming animals and can mimic exactly some of the experiments done by the British Heart Foundation," the group adds.