It's the turn of Kerrang! Radio in the West Midlands to appear under the Ofcom spotlight for rigging an on-air competition.
Breakfast presenter Tim Shaw, who was let go by the station for the incident, pre-recorded a winner for a competition then invited listeners to call in for a chance to win film tickets.
The prize was to see “Shine a Light”, a feature-length documentary on the Rolling Stones, and Tim said he wanted a Rolling Stones fan to win.
A complainant claimed that the presenter had planned to award the tickets to a friend, pre-recorded his ‘entry’ and played it ‘as live’, instead of running a genuine competition.
Rule 2.11 of the Code requires that “competitions should be conducted fairly…”.
Kerrang! Radio owner Bauer Media said that as soon as it had received the allegation from Ofcom it suspended the presenter, interviewed each employee connected with the competition and visited the winner, to verify “an accurate record of events.”
The broadcaster said the presenter concerned was experienced but had admitted that he had run the competition as alleged. However, he had told Bauer that he believed he was “doing the right thing by rewarding a loyal and deserving listener”, who he knew both suffered from a chronic and debilitating illness and was a fan of the Rolling Stones.
Bauer said that the presenter had contacted the listener the day before the broadcast to let him know there would be a feature of interest to him the following morning. The presenter explained the mechanic of the competition to him but the listener said that, due to his medical condition, he was not confident that he would be able to respond quickly on air. To show the listener that he was capable of a quick response, the presenter decided to record him as if on air and play it back to him. However, this did not convince the listener. Wishing to give him the opportunity to win that he was denying himself, the presenter decided to play the recording on air the following morning, ‘as live’, pretending that he was the first caller to the studio. The presenter told Bauer that he had had no intention of using the recording unless the listener called on the day. However, after his co-presenter had asked the question, the presenter noted that no calls were lined up for selection and decided to play it. During playback he noticed two attempted calls but answered neither.
On 9 May, a month after the incident, Kerrang! Radio broadcast an apology hourly throughout daytime and Tim was dismissed.
And whilst Ofcom has found the station in breach of a broadcasting rule, the regulator will not take any further action. However, Kerrang! Radio is now on notice that it is likely to take further regulatory action in the event of any similar breach of Rule 2.11 of the Code.
Tim Shaw is now employed by Absolute Radio, hosting a Friday and Saturday night show.