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The i paper censured for "no celebrity gossip" claim

Independent's i newspaper receives warning from ASA about misleading TV ad.

The Independent's slimmed down version, the i newspaper, has been attacked by the Advertising Standards Agency for misleading readers with the claim that it contains "no celeb gossip nonsense".

This comes as a blow to media tycoon Alexander Lebedev, and undermines his ambition to position the cut-price newspaper as a quality daily.

The i has responded by claiming its celebrity stories cannot be equated with the gossip columns in lower-end titles because "unlike other newspapers they [are] based on factual content and not hearsay."

However, the ASA has prohibited i from making the claim "no celeb gossip nonsense" on the grounds that the paper's Caught & Social section is dedicated to precisely this sort of celebrity gossip story.

The newspaper's publisher has argued that the Caught & Social section is a "cultural page that informed readers about worldwide arts events" and the "famous people who attended them".

The 20p cut-down version of the Independent ran a multimillion-pound TV advertising campaign in early 2011, featuring celebrity stars including Jemima Khan and Dom Jolly, and backed by Clearcast, the vetting body for TV commercials.

The ASA received a complaint that the TV advertisment's claim that the paper does not buy into the tabloid gossip culture was a distortion of the truth. After examining two March issue of i, the ASA has ruled that the TV ad is misleading and that it can no longer appear in its current form.

Emanuelle Degli Esposti is the editor and founder of The Arab Review, an online journal covering arts and culture in the Arab world. She also works as a freelance journalist specialising in the politics of the Middle East.