London community radio station Resonance FM has found itself in trouble with Ofcom after broadcasting a programme on the day of the Scottish Referendum encouraging people which way to vote.
The station says it wasn’t planning any particular coverage of the event but one programme, Wanted, decided to play an hour to Scottish rock two days before the event. But the show was repeated on the voting date and included links from the presenter such as:
“‘Wanted’ today is playing Scottish songs. Scottish songs. An hour of Scottish songs in the wake of the election coming up. I think it’s going to go ‘Yes’, and
we’re going to celebrate this great, glorious fact that Scotland will be part of a great, federal Europe. We will all be together, as we live in a global economy. We’re all interdependent on one another. It’s just Scotland saying: ‘Look, this is what we’ve got to offer’. What Scotland has to offer is a hell of a lot of damn good music. It always has”.
“It’s looking like, I think, that Scotland will go independent. Independent within a wider Europe. We’ll all stay friends and we’ll continue to make great music, whisky and cheese and culture and art, and come to Scotland, it’s a great country”.
“If you’re listening on Thursday, it is the day of the election. What will it be? Will it be ‘Yes’, or will it be Better Together? Apparently last night in Trafalgar Square, there was a big campaign under the guise called ‘Better Together’. Eddie Izzard, Al Murray Pub Landlord and Sir Bob Geldof got up on stage to persuade Londoners that Scotland was better as part of the United Kingdom. Well that’ll do it, won’t it? Not! A bit like sending 58 Scottish MPs to Glasgow thinking that that
might make Scotland vote ‘No’. You know, it’s a bit like when you’re a child and somebody puts some sweets in front of you and says, ‘Don’t eat them, don’t touch
them’. And the opposite effect is true. That is what is gonna happen: Cameron going up to Scotland is having the opposite effect. He has forgotten there hasn’t been a Scottish Tory MP in Scotland for a very long time. Although, I think there might be one now, that’s one in the whole country. Therein lies a thought”.
“People have been asking me, ‘Henry, how do you think it’s going to be if Scotland goes independent?’ And my reply is, ‘I think it will be perfect’”. (followed by ‘Perfect’ by Fairground Attraction)
Ofcom considered that these two broadcasts of this edition of Wanted raised issues warranting investigation after a single complaint was received.
Rule 5.13 of the broadcast code says “Broadcasters should not give undue prominence to the views and opinions of particular persons or bodies on matters of political or industrial controversy and matters relating to current public policy in all the programmes included in any service…taken as a whole”.
The Licensee apologised for what it accepted was a breach of the code, saying it considered that this broadcast was: “a serious mistake”. It said that the repeated transmission was “due to an oversight which necessarily has no bearing on the problematic and transgressive content of the original transmission”.
The owners of Resonance FM, LMCL, explained that it “had not intended any coverage of this referendum, it being beyond the scope of its localised community broadcasts”. As a result of this case, the Licensee said that it had reiterated to its presenters, in writing and through “formal meetings”, the importance of observing the Code rules, particularly with regard to due impartiality and electoral matters.