West Wiltshire's Total Star 107.5 has been found in breach of Ofcom rules for promoting offers by local businesses.
And although no money was received by the station for the commercial references, breaches of Rule 10.3 and 10.4 of the Ofcom Code were broken.
One listener compained when he or she heard Andy Henly at Drive inviting listeners to visit the station's website to obtain information about discounts offered by a number of local businesses. The presenter went on to mention two particular businesses by name and gave details of their specific offers:
[blockquote]You can find out all about the half-price sale on our website. There's deals on photography, also on short breaks, yes, you can still maybe have a short break before Christmas, sport and leisure and also health and beauty, and food and drink. Total Bathrooms have a fantastic offer on their lovemeter' and if you are musically enthralled, then Duck, Son and Pinker has some good deals as well. Check out all the deals, today's deals on our website.[/blockquote]
In response, Total Star 107.5 stated that no payment had been received for the inclusion of the references to two companies, Total Bathrooms, and Duck, Son and Pinker, in this programme segment.
The broadcaster explained that purpose of the “half price offers” section of its website was not to directly promote any business but “to provide listeners with some exclusive deals”. It added that it felt it was “important to relate to its listeners and offer as many facilities as possible”.
Total Star said that “the presenter clearly defined” the feature as “a special offer” which invited listeners “to access a variety of limited exclusive services through the station website.” The broadcaster argued that this provided editorial justification for the commercial references to be included in the programme.
Upon investigation, Ofcom said there was no evidence that the broadcast was in breach of Rule 10.5 which prohibits product placement. [b]However[/b], Rule 10.3 of the Code prohibits the promotion of products and services within programmes. Ofcom noted that the presenter encouraged listeners to visit the broadcaster's website for details of the station's special offers, which he referred to in some detail (e.g. “There‟s deals on photography, also on short breaks, yes, you can still maybe have a short break before Christmas, sport and leisure and also health and beauty, and food and drink.”). He then referred to two companies and used phrases such as “fantastic offer” and “good deals” to describe those businesses‟ participation.
The presenter therefore promoted and endorsed the companies in question, in breach of Rule 10.3.
Further, Rule 10.4 of the Code requires that products and services are not given undue prominence in programmes. There appeared to be no editorial justification for the presenter to give specific details of the companies participating in the “half price offers” section of the broadcaster's website. Consequently, Ofcom concluded that these references were also in breach of Rule 10.4
The breach comes less than a month after Total Star in Swindon, Bath and Bridgwater was [link=http://radiotoday.co.uk/news.php?extend.6388]found[/link] in breach of Ofcom's code for not providing enough local news.