GCap Media has been hit with a £17,500 fine after ICSTIS said a serious breach of rules had taken place during a networked radio competition. GCap have admitted putting listeners on-air knowing they had the wrong answer, in order to prolong the competition and generate more revenue.
The investigation started after a complaint was made about the Secret Sound competition which ran across 31 One Network stations from 15 January 2007. Sounds were played on the radio and listeners had to guess what they were. Entry into the contest was via calling a premium rate number costing 35p per call or sending a SMS at a cost of 25p per text. Listeners entered for the chance to be selected to guess the sound on air. The selected listeners were called back by the radio presenters.
Those who registered via SMS text were required only to text the words SECRET SOUND. However some participants also included what they thought the answer was.
GCap Media have admitted they used information from competition entrants who had entered via SMS and had supplied incorrect answers with their entry (even though no answers had been sought at this point in the competition) had been purposely selected to go on-air and give an answer to the competition.
In response, GCap Media said "The breach that occurred was an isolated incident and as soon as the system error was discovered, management took swift and decisive action to tighten up GCap's procedures to prevent any similar breaches occurring in the future. We have since carried out a very thorough analysis of our processes and now believe that we have a robust system in place. We will continue to monitor our processes regularly to ensure that our compliance with ICSTIS code and other guidelines is maintained."
In a statement issued today, the broadcaster says their relationship with listeners is of paramount importance and any listeners who took part in the Secret Sounds competition in January 2007 can claim a full refund by visiting gcapmedia.com. They also said they will no longer run premium-rate phone-in competitions for profit.
The statement continues: "As radio industry leaders, we have also reviewed the future role of premium rate services at our stations. Such services allow for robust management of high call volumes and while we will continue to use them, we will ensure that any charges are commensurate with the cost to the business. As such, we will not profit from any future premium rate contesting."