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Ofcom finds six breaches

by RadioToday UK
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In the latest Broadcast Bulletin, the regulator has found a number of stations to be in breach of rules.

Talksport, Southend Radio, Dee 106.3, Cool FM, Bath FM and 3TR have all been rapped for various reasons, with Talksport summoned to a meeting with Ofcom to discuss their compliance procedures.

Southend Radio fell victim of not being clear in terms and conditions or noting that their ‘Mystery Voices’ was a competition over a network of stations. Dee 106.3’s slip up earned them a double Rule breach after letting a club promoter go too far in plugging his night and how to get hold of tickets.

Talksport made a second appearance for a promotional reference to a contributor that went too far. A sponsor tag on Cool FM was deemed to be misleading – and the Licensees of Bath FM and 3TR failed to provide recordings after claims that they were operating out of Format requirements.

We recommend reading the full Broadcast Bulletin [link=]here[/link] for all the gory details of each particular breach – but here’s a quick summary of some:

[b]Talksport – George Galloway[/b]

This is the most notable breach of the Code with Ofcom ruling that the stations procedures did not ensure a competition was conducted fairly and breached Rule 2.11. The response from broadcaster failed to appease things with the regulator saying they were “concerned with Talksports view that the promotion and operation of this competition raised no compliance issues” and they have been summoned to Ofcom to discuss procedures as a result.

In a feature on George Galloway’s show which doesn’t normally have a prize attached to it, listeners were invited to enter where a prize was on offer that night. Entries to win a copy of George’s “Fidel Castro Handbook” were taken through the stations premium rate telephone number, text message number which costs 50p plus standard charges and email.
A listener to the show felt concerned that the competition was not conducted fairly after a conversation with a call screener that led him to believe he had just missed out and a correct answer had already been selected; however the broadcaster continued to invite entries after this conversation.

The wording of how George Galloway promoted the competition on-air was “Why on earth am I playing that? First person to tell me wins a book” suggests that the first person to submit the correct answer would win the prize – but in Talksports response, the selection procedure they outlined was not appropriate to do this.

In Ofcom’s conclusion, they found no evidence that Talksport had deliberately mislead listeners but it appeared to them that there were insufficient procedures to ensure the competitions compliance with Rule 2.11 of the Code, which states all competitions must be conducted fairly – regardless of prize value.

[b]Southend Radio – Tracies Mystery Voices[/b]

This competition was run over three different stations in the Adventure Radio Network, including Southend Radio, entries were charged at a standard network rate with free entries online.

A complaint from a listener said that neither the competitions on-air description or terms and conditions on the station website stated that it was being run over three stations, therefore reducing the chances of an entrant being selected and winning. Concerns were also raised about it being unclear what the value of the jackpot was – terms and conditions indicated it would increase each day until the competition was won, information on-air claimed said the jackpot was £5,000.

Ofcom asked for comments from Southend Radio under rule 2.15 which states that Broadcasters must draw up rules for a broadcast competition which must be clear and appropriately made known; and that significant conditions which may affect a listener’s decision to participate must be stated at the time of the invitation to participate.

In the stations response they accepted full responsibility for administrative errors but maintained they had no intention to mislead and that no errors resulted in listeners being disadvantaged. They also made changes to rectify the error as soon as they realised there was a problem and held their hands up about mistakes when briefing presenters.

Ofcom accepted that Southend did not seek to mislead listeners and noted that as entries were either free or the price of a standard rate text message, the competition did not generate any revenue for the station and welcomed remedial action; however still found the station in breach of Rule 2.15.

[b]Dee 106.3 – Mike James[/b]

Chester’s Dee claimed a double in this Broadcast bulletin, falling in breach of both Rule 10.3 and 10.4 which surrounds promotion of products and services. A guest from Level Two Nightclub mentioned a phone number and a Facebook page where listeners could get tickets for an event, during a competition which was not sponsored by the nightclub.

The extract on-air was:

Can I just mention about tickets, Mike? If people do want tickets [for the nightclubs Ultimate Ladies Night] , they can phone us on [telephone number] or they can have a look on our Facebook page, which is at [Facebook reference] …

This mention served no editorial purpose other than promoting the club who had just finished an advertising campaign with the station, so it gave undue prominence to Level Two. The mention of the event meant services were promoted in the programme, breaching rule 10.3.

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