Town 102 has been found in breach of Ofcom rules for broadcasting an unclear sponsor message during a Wimbledon update. The regulator said the station failed to make it obvious the tag for BUPA was a sponsored credit rather than a subliminal advertising message.
The presenter introduced the Wimbledon update as normal, and afterwards read out a sponsored tag: "BUPA Wellness makes you feel better", then proceeded with the rest of the sports news. A listener complained that this was an attempt by Town 102 to “increase their advertising profits” by “interrupting their news with subliminal adverts.”
It also emerged that Town 102 did not obtain RACC clearance for the tag, assuming its sports provider already had.
In response to the complaint, the Tindle Radio station said: "Town 102 always tried to ensure regulatory compliance but had mistakenly believed that its sports news provider had obtained RACC clearance in this case. The broadcaster added that it had taken action to ensure no recurrence and had already been in the process of revising its sports news provision."
Ofcom said it was unclear from the statement, “BUPA Wellness makes you feel better”, that it was anything more than a promotional message placed within the sports news. "The channel failed to make clear to the listener that BUPA Wellness was a sponsor or that the Wimbledon updates within the bulletin were sponsored. The broadcast was therefore also in breach of Rule 9.8 of the Code."
Rule 9.8 requires that, “the relationship between the sponsor and the sponsored [programming] must be transparent."
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