Bauer radio station Kiss says a breach recorded against its licence by Ofcom over unclear competition rules is 'unfair'.
The regulator followed up a complaint that prizes in last year's Kissmas giveaway were offered outside of the hours that some entrants thought they would be.
The competition, which aired for a month in the run-up to Christmas, saw listeners able to register for free on the Kiss website and name a prize of their choice up to a value of £500. Winners were picked at random, their names read out on air and they were given 20 minutes to call in and claim their prize.
Ofcom received a complaint that the competition's web entry page and on-air presenters indicated that names would be read out between 9am and 6pm, but that the online terms and conditions on the station's website showed the period as being from 7am to 7pm.
Kiss told the regulator that over the month-long promotion there were 21 occasions where entrants' names were read out on air before 9am or after 6pm, but that all were within the 7am-7pm bracket as per the competition rules. And on all but two occasions, the station says it made listeners aware of the extra competition rounds by broadcasting frequent announcements and putting info on their social media sites. The two times where they didn't alert listeners were because they broadcast extra editorial coverage of the student protests in London and the extreme weather conditions.
Kiss Programme Director Andy Roberts told RadioToday.co.uk: "We put on extra competition rounds because we had loads more prizes to give away. I understand passions become high when people want to win stuff and that's led to the complaint, but we proved in all the audio supplied to Ofcom that we had notified listeners of the extra rounds. On the two days that we didn't, we had big issues in London with the student protests and the weather, and that was the priority."
In its decision, published in today's [link=http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/enforcement/broadcast-bulletins/obb178/obb178.pdf]Broadcast Bulletin[/link], Ofcom said they accepted Bauer hadn't sought to mislead listeners but found that there didn't appear to be a clear reason why the competition operating periods stated were different in the online terms and conditions to the web entry form and on air mentions. A spokesman said: "This may have caused confusion among entrants about when they should listen to the station in case their names were read out on air. The competition was free for listeners to enter, so we took into account that no entrants would have been financially harmed as a result of this confusion."
Ofcom decided that the confusion did, however, mean that Kiss had broken Rule 2.15 of the Broadcast Code because there were instances where listeners had risked not knowing that they had an opportunity to win a prize.
Andy added: "The breach is unfair – but we know we did all the right things. We just thought we'd do a few more rounds to give away more prizes out of the goodness of our heart. I feel we've been a bit hard done by."