Bath FM has been found in breach of sponsorship rules surrounding live promotion of a local business. It comes just months after the station broadcast an advert on behalf of a political body.
In the latest breaches, Ofcom was concerned that the contents in a Sunday morning programme contained too much promotion and coverage of an open day for a local spa called Champneys.
Advertising messages took place within pre-recorded trails and live links, to which the regulator said that the sponsor had been allowed to influence programming content and impair the editorial independence of Bath FM.
In investigating, Ofcom noted that no sponsorship credits were aired around this programming – something which the Code says must happen.
Bath FM said that the Sales Manager at the time of broadcast “did not have a full understanding” of the rules concerning sponsorship, adding that it believed the programming coverage concerning Champneys’ open day was “an error in his judgement and should not have taken place in the format that it did.” The broadcaster said that it could not justify the Sales Manager’s actions and added that he no longer worked for Bath FM.
To ensure future compliance, Bath FM said it had subsequently suspended “any commercial activity that [was] not within advertising breaks”, while it sought clarification concerning Ofcom’s sponsorship rules. It added that it had also issued new guidelines concerning “paid for activity”, which included all sponsorship arrangements being approved by either the Director of Bath FM or the new Sales Director.
Ofcom is due to meet the broadcaster to provide the clarification it sought concerning Section Nine (Sponsorship) of the Code.
In [link=http://radiotoday.co.uk/news.php?extend.4771.17]May[/link], the station said it had tightened its internal procedures with regards to the Radio Advertising Standards Code after it advised listeners to oppose a local council's proposal to build a new road.
The station is currently facing an uncertain future after its parent company South West Radio went into administration.