The BBC Trust has found that Harry Potter Day on Radio 1 breached the BBC’s editorial guidelines in relation to undue prominence.
It follows a complaint about the station from the commercial radio industry body RadioCentre.
It coincided with the cinema release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and included numerous features, interviews, trails and references to the film across the daytime schedule. The Trust concluded that the scale and cumulative effect of the coverage, together with its timing, on the day of the film's release, amounted to a breach of provision related to product prominence.
Its decision states that verbal references ‘were not used sparingly’, nor was sufficient care taken to ‘minimise product reference in output designed to appeal to children’.
Listen to the audio [link=http://radiotoday.co.uk/a/RadioToday_potterday.mp3]here[/link].
Last year the Trust's review of the station’s performance demanded it deliver more public value via its speech output and renew its focus on serving a young audience.
RadioCentre's recent monitoring of Radio 1’s daytime output suggests it has failed to meet the demands of the Trust – and that light entertainment and celebrity driven programming, like Harry Potter Day, are all too frequent.
Andrew Harrison, Chief Executive, RadioCentre, commented: “This decision is the latest example of the BBC falling under the spell of celebrity and being hijacked for the promotion of an already successful commercial product. For the BBC to break its own rules repeatedly is bad enough, but more importantly it is selling listeners short if its radio stations are allowed to move yet further away from their public service remit. As the Trust prepares its report on the BBC Strategy Review, we are urging it to be more ambitious and to put a stop to this kind of excessively commercial behaviour once and for all”.
In other findings, RadioCentre says Radio 1 failed to deliver at least one hour of news during daytime each weekday, and in 2010 delivered less social action information during weekday daytime, increasing output during off-peak periods when the majority of the audience don’t listen.