Recently published statistics from the Advertising Standards Agency (“ASA”) show that adverts promoting holidays to the illegally occupied area of Cyprus on ITV were the third most complained about adverts of 2022, following a campaign by the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK. In total, 394 complaints were received by the ASA urging it to ban the adverts.

In January, UK Cypriots were appalled to see advertisements by the so-called “Turkish Republic of northern Cyprus Ministry of Tourism and Environment” and Direct Traveller. The adverts displayed images and video clips of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus that was illegally invaded and has been under Turkish military occupation since 1974. These adverts caused great hurt and upset to the tens of thousands of UK Cypriots that watch ITV on a regular basis, many of whom lived through and were made refugees by the invasion in 1974, leading them to contact us and ask for action to be taken.

President Christos Karaolis, on behalf of the Federation, wrote to ITV’s Chief Executive and the ASA, condemning the advertisements and urging the television network “to stop running these adverts, apologise for the offence caused and ensure that adverts for holidays to the occupied area of Cyprus are never displayed on ITV again.” He also urged the community to make its voice heard directly to ITV and the ASA.

Disappointingly, the ASA concluded that no rules had been broken, however the strength of the community response was a public and visible signal to broadcasters about the extent of hurt and anger felt by diaspora Cypriots over these inflammatory adverts.