Ofcom has fined 30 local radio stations within GCap Media's One Network, a total of £1,110,000 for unfair conduct in their Secret Sound competition.
Ofcom's investigation found that on a number of occasions programme makers deliberately put to air text entrants with incorrect answers in order to prevent the prize from being won too soon.
As a result, those listeners who had paid to enter the competition on these occasions had no chance of winning. The seriousness of the compliance failures was compounded by some of the actions taken by GCap after the incidents had come to light.
Taken together, the fines amount to the highest total financial penalty to be imposed for the broadcast of radio content which has been found in breach of the Broadcasting Code.
GCap Media were previously fined £17,500 by ICSTIS in [link=http://www.radiotoday.co.uk/news.php?extend.2299.2]August 2007[/link] for the same competition.
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.