Radio XL 1296AM in the West Midlands has been found In Breach of Ofcom advertising rules after a presenter read out an advert for office space, without obvious separation.
However, the station claimed there was enough of a distinction between programme content and paid-for advertising.
After a commercial break and brief station ident, the presenter said:
[blockquote]“Traffic control updates for you in about three to four minutes’ time. Time to squeeze in a little song. Just before that, I’ve got to tell you something and this is dedicated to you. In fact it’s special attention to everybody, especially if you’re a solicitor, if you’re an accountants, travel agents and all those that need office space. Now, office space now available in a prime location on the main high street in West Bromwich. The premises are opposite the subway and have car parking to the rear. Over eighteen hundred square feet of office space is available, and great premises with competitive rates at a highly sought after location there. If you want any enquiries on there, if you do need office space, why not pick up the phone and call either David on 0121… [repeats name and number] or Richard on 0121… [repeats number] and they can help you out with that, if you need any office space – got loads available over in West Bromwich.”[/blockquote]
A complaint led Ofcom to conclude the station had not done everything it could to separate advertising and programme elements.
Radio XL, which serves the local Asian community, said: "..in this passage the presenter [was] clearly doing a paid for live read”, with “no attempt to disguise this as normal programming.” The broadcaster admitted there was “no separation” but claimed the nature of the output was transparent to listeners, as no attempt had been made “to disguise [the] material as normal programming.”
Ofcom said it notes Radio XL’s analysis of the complainant’s view concerning the material broadcast. "We do not consider that the presenter was “clearly doing a paid for live read.” Further, we note that Radio XL acknowledged it had not ensured that the advertising and programme elements of its service had been kept separate," it said.
In addition, the station was found In Breach of two further rules regarding sponsorship tags, which generally should be short branding statements. Radio XL ran a short weather in, ("Radio XL weather is brought to you in association with Southall Travel – taking you to the best destinations in the world") but the out was quite a bit longer ("For special rates to India, Pakistan, USA, Canada, Kenya, Dar-es-Salaam, Kilimanjaro and Dubai, call Southall Travel, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week on 0121… [repeats number]")
Ofcom wasn't happy that the end tag was the closing part of the bulletin, and said it comprised merely advertising messages.