A weather sponsor tag on North Norfolk Radio has been found in Breach of the broadcasting code for misleading listeners, after a rival complained.
The tag, which had been broadcast 87 times each week since 5 September 2011, stated: “Weather with Anglia Mowers – the only dedicated garden machinery dealer in North Norfolk.”
However, North Norfolk Garden Machinery – a competitor of the sponsor – contested the claim, saying there were at least five such dealers in North Norfolk.
The tag had been cleared by the Radio Advertising Clearance Centre, based on information supplied by the client. But Ofcom said RACC’s clearance of the sponsorship credit had expired, and that central copy clearance was not required, as neither the sponsor nor the products it sold were ‘special category’ advertising.
The station’s owner at the time, Tindle Radio, said Anglia Mowers described the history of its business to them and listed 10 garden machinery suppliers based in North Norfolk, each of which it claimed sold “garden machinery alongside other products.”
It described North Norfolk Garden Machinery (the complainant) as a “Garden Machinery & Mobility Centre” and provided a photograph of a small roadside billboard that pointed to and advertised what appeared to Ofcom to be two businesses: “North Norfolk’s Garden Machinery” and “Holt Mobility Centre”.
Tindle, the client and the RACC each appeared to consider that the claim, “Anglia Mowers – the only dedicated garden machinery dealer in North Norfolk”, told listeners that Anglia Mowers was the only dealer in North Norfolk that dealt solely in garden machinery.
Ofcom disagreed, saying in this instance, the word “dedicated” could have been understood to mean a level of expertise and/or service on the part of Anglia Mowers and that the sponsorship credit failed to clarify precisely how the sponsor was different from them.
The regulator said the sponsorship credit attempted to convey a comparison with unidentified competitors, but failed to clarify precisely what any difference was.
“We consider this created an ambiguity that was likely to mislead listeners and the sponsorship credit was therefore in breach,” Ofcom ruled.