GCap group programme director Pete Simmons has warned small radio stations that they "stand no chance" of staying on the right side of the law, because the rules surrounding premium-rate competitions are so complicated. Radio Today reports from The Radio Academy's latest event..
Appearing on the panel at a Radio Academy debate on listener trust and the phone-in row, Simmons said there was too much confusion about what counted as "premium rate". He also said it was unclear whether Ofcom, Icstis or the Gambling Commission were in charge of making sure stations play by the rules.
"Smaller stations stand no chance," he said. "If they don't employ solicitors or regulatory officers, they're going to find it very tough. What we need is real clarity and distinct definitions."
GCap fell foul of the rules last month when it was fined £17,500 by phone regulator Icstis for a serious code breach during the networked Secret Sound competition. The group was found guilty of deliberately putting callers to air with the wrong answers in order to prolong the competition and make more money.
But Simmons insisted GCap never set out to deliberately con listeners. "We'd be silly to piss off too many listeners," he said. "We'd put them in the hands of other broadcasters."
TalkSport business development director Kevin Bird, who was also on the panel, said audiences today were "a lot wiser than they were six months ago. You can't afford to take chances any more," he said. "And if you do, you deserve to get sorted out."
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