Exmouth community radio station Bay FM has been found in breach of its licence for an item in its news bulletin.
One person made a complaint to the regulator that the station’s claim of carrying out an independent survey was not accurate.
The survey revealed that the community radio station was as popular as Heart. The news item said: “A recent independent survey on 499 residents in Exmouth indicates that Bay FM is paving the way in popularity and hitting the spot locally, with only Heart reaching 0.8 per cent more than Bay FM, and station manager Andy Green is delighted”.
Andy Green then said: “Well of course it’s absolutely fantastic news for the station and the community it serves. The survey shows the listeners love the station, its great music and its true localness. Bay FM is not just registered in Exmouth, with studios miles away, it’s based in Exmouth, serving Exmouth and the surrounding areas and that’s why people love Bay FM”.
But Ofcom found the survey wasn’t independent and was actually carried out by ‘volunteers linked to Bay FM’.
The station said it had undertaken the survey referred to in the news item by “using volunteers from Bay FM who are not known by sight (being background volunteers at the station), who carried out the survey as accurately as possible dressed in plain clothes, making no reference to Bay FM or any other radio station whatsoever.”
Bay FM said as a community radio station with limited resources it “made use of its volunteer commitment by undertaking a street survey that was conducted under the most fair conditions that could be implemented.”
The Licensee added that: “In hindsight, it is regretted that our methods could be misconstrued for potentially being less than neutral but it was not the intention of Bay FM to conduct a less than objective street survey”. In this context, Bay FM said that in an edition of Bay FM News broadcast on 20 October 2015 it broadcast an apology for this incident.”