Real Radio Northwest has been found in breach of Ofcom rules for using a station employee to pose as a caller on a breakfast show competition.
The daily TV10 competition failed to attract any genuine callers on one particular day so a member of the on air team asked someone from the production office to ring the studio number and act as if they were a genuine entrant.
The station said the team, which are unnamed in the report, attributed this action to a “spur of the moment” decision in a busy breakfast show environment and, in hindsight, recognised it was the result of an error of judgement.
The Licensee pointed out, however, that no prize was awarded on this occasion, and as such the inclusion of this call had no impact on the overall competition conclusion that day nor did it exclude any genuine listeners from participating.
In light of the single complaint, an apology was made to Ofcom and the station carried out a specific review of the producer role within this programme.
Ofcom said it particularly concerned about the breach in this case and that in the event of any recurrence, will consider taking further regulatory action.
The regulator said: “We recognised the Licensee’s apology and full acknowledgement that the team’s decision was ill-judged. Additionally, we welcomed the action taken by the Licensee to discipline and provide further training to the relevant staff to prevent a recurrence.”
It points out that many findings have been published over the years dealing with similar investigations and was therefore very concerned that, even in a pressured live show environment, the production team considered that asking a member of staff to act as a fake competition entrant was an acceptable course of action.”