Ofcom has resolved two complaints from listeners regarding two different GCap Media stations.
A cover presenter on Invicta FM asked a caller if she was old, and therefore smelt, whilst Fox FM included administrative and shipping costs in the price of a prize worth £500.
At Invicta FM a listener called to enter a competition, but when asked her age by the presenter she replied that she was a pensioner – he then asked her whether she smelt. Another listener found this objectionable. Whilst GCap has since stressed that it takes its responsibilities very carefully with regard to the content of its programming, Ofcom said that the remark was not justified by the context and was based on a derogatory stereotype of elder people.
But in view of the reflective nature of the station’s apology, Ofcom considers the matter resolved.
Meanwhile over at Fox FM they ran a World Cup competition where a prize was described as “500 pounds worth of stuff” and listeners were offered a choice of a television package or £500 to spend in the pub or on pampering session. A winner’s husband claimed that listeners were led to believe the package alone was worth £500. He told us that the prize she chose — the television package — had subsequently been valued at £329 and that the broadcaster had told him that the total prize value included administrative and shipping costs.
GCap Media, who own Fox FM, accepted that listeners could have interpreted the amount referred to in the prize description as its retail value. However the broadcaster believed that listeners could also have interpreted it as the total cost to the broadcaster in providing the package. It added that wildly fluctuating prices could be found on the internet, “with differing levels of service and delivery, the latter often charged for.”
GCap had therefore included an events company’s handling charge in the prize value, some of which had covered delivery to the prize winner's home. It did not believe that there had been an inaccurate description of the prize.
However, GCap said it was keen to avoid any possible ambiguity and that it had therefore put in place procedures, “to ensure clarity of description particularly where values are ascribed to prizes.” It clarified that, if a monetary value was broadcast, it would “endeavour to state from where this value derives”. In the case of retail goods, it would state the likely retail value.
Ofcom finds this complaint resolved by saying: [i]The purpose of describing a prize on-air is primarily to provide listeners with sufficient information to decide whether to enter the associated competition. We acknowledge that the price charged for consumer electrical goods can vary greatly. However, we do not believe that listeners would generally expect additional handling charges (such as delivery charges) to be included in a broadcast prize value.
In this case, we believe the generic reference to all the prizes available (“500 pounds worth of stuff”) clearly indicated prizes of a similar value to the winner. This interpretation was supported by the detailed descriptions of the alternative prizes to the television package, as they allowed the winner to spend £500 in specific ways.
However, GCap did not appear to describe the television package with any intent to mislead listeners. We welcomed its assurance concerning future transparency concerning prize descriptions, and we believe this resolves the matter on this occasion. [/i]