Touch FM 96.2 (formerly known as Kix 96.2 FM) has been issued with a temporary ‘Yellow Card’ from Ofcom for breaching their format.
Content Sampling Reports is the new buzz term at Ofcom as they concentrate on output rather than input – relaxing rules on how the programme is made, but concentrating on what the listener hears. The new reports are to be the main tool by which Ofcom will regulate stations, as outlined in the end-of-consultation Regulatory Statement on ‘Radio – Preparing for the Future (Phase 2)’, published in February.
Content Sampling Reports may be prompted by a complaint or undertaken on a ‘spot check’ basis. This Report was prompted by a complaint from a member of the public about the station’s music policy. The report found the general music policy to be acceptable, but identified a problem with the specialist Irish music output – namely, that it was being broadcast in an inaccessible timeslot (0000-0500hrs Mondays), when it had previously been communicated to the station’s owners that such scheduling would be contrary to the spirit of the Format. Since the Format forms a part of the station’s licence, the station had therefore been operating in breach of its licence conditions.
The Regulatory Statement outlined the procedures likely to be taken in the event of Format problems being identified through Content Sampling Reports. The main procedure involves the issuing of a ‘Yellow Card’. This is not a procedure from legislation: rather, it was devised by the legacy regulator as a way of identifying and rectifying Format problems without having automatically to resort to a sanction. It allows a licensee to understand what problems have been identified by the regulator, to discuss them further if necessary, and to put them right (at which point the ‘Yellow Card’ can be lifted).
The station has been instructed to take appropriate remedial steps, and has agreed to do so with immediate effect. Ofcom will undertake further sampling within the next two months: if the station is then found to be operating within its Format the Yellow Card will be lifted; if it is not, this may result in the station being sanctioned.
So watch out. Ofcom are listening.