Ofcom has found Bath FM in breach of the Radio Advertising Standards Code, after broadcasting an advert on behalf of a political body.
The advert in question advised listeners to oppose a local council's proposal to build a new road. It was paid for by Response2Route, a body which, in Ofcom‟s view, is prohibited from advertising on TV and radio as its objects are wholly or mainly political in nature.
The regulator said: "The advertisement was aimed at influencing local government policy and decisions and was therefore directed towards a political end. It was therefore a political advertisement as defined by the Act."
Bath FM told Ofcom that the booking for the commercial airtime was handled regionally within the South West Radio group, but that the copy clearance was undertaken locally by the radio station. And although the radio station was advised by the regional group of the need for central clearance by the Radio Advertising Clearance Centre, it was not acted on.
The station broadcast a week of the campaign but refused a second week of airtime to Response2Route once the matter had been highlighted.
Ofcom therefore concluded that the advertising was in breach of Section 2, Rule 15 of the Radio Advertising Standards Code. Bath FM said it had taken “appropriate internal action with the parties concerned” and had tightened its internal procedures.
The advert in full:
[blockquote]Bath’s council wants to spend £16m of taxpayers’ money building a new road into town, a private road -, for private buses – fares please! – with your money – fares please! – on green land. 81% of you opposed it in the Chronicle’s poll; 65 percent of businesses opposed it in a recent poll; over 3000 of you signed our petition. But the Council won’t listen – to you, about your money, your environment. Object to the BRT planning application online before February 23rd. It’s quick and easy: Response2Route.co.uk shows you how. Response2Route: because building roads is not a solution.[/blockquote]
Ofcom notes the licensee admits these breaches but was concerned that it failed to ensure the advertisement was initially cleared by the RACC.