Absolute Radio has been censured by media regulator Ofcom over a competition it ran in conjunction with Sky. The Win with Sky promotion aired toward the end of April this year.
The promotion’s tagline; ‘With Sky – choose the TV you want, without paying for the things you don’t’, prompted one listener to complain that the claim, “choose the TV you want, without paying for the things you don’t”, was misleading. The complainant claimed that, if someone wanted to watch only Sky Sports or Sky Movies, they would also “have to purchase at least 1 [of] their 6 Entertainment Packs…”.
For Ofcom’s part, the media regulator was unclear whether the competition was an advertisement for Sky, which also promoted the listener competition feature on Absolute Radio, or whether it was intended primarily as a programming trail for the competition.
In response, Absolute Radio confirmed that the output in question was a programming trail for the listener competition feature, which was sponsored by Sky.
Absolute Radio stated that they believed it had clearly identified Sky as the sponsor of the competition. Claiming that it “had clear sponsorship credits at both the beginning and the end.” A point that the media regulator disagreed with, censuring Absolute for breaching Rules 9.9 and 9.10 of the Code.
An spokesman for Absolute Radio has since said: "Absolute Radio has been found in breach of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code on two counts, and the BCAP Code on one count. Ofcom has welcomed the action taken by Absolute Radio to ensure future compliance of the Broadcasting Code.
"Separately, Ofcom is currently consulting with Absolute Radio and the radio and television industry and other stakeholders and the public on a review of the Broadcasting Code, including looking at sponsored listener competitions of which this was an example. Ofcom’s own research into commercial references within radio programming found that listeners welcome sponsored competitions in which the listener “gets something back” and that organisations should be provided with a more extensive promotional opportunity than regulations currently allow.
"Absolute Radio is actively taking part in the consultation and welcomes the opportunity for the code to be reviewed."
A similar fate awaited Hallam FM when they ran a promotion for the same campaign during the same period. Prompting a listener complaint and giving cause for Ofcom to comment that radio sponsorship credits are “cleared for broadcast in the same way as advertisements.”
Passing judgment, Ofcom found Hallam FM to be in breach of Rule 9.10 of the Code.