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Pirate complains about Atlantic

A complaint by UKRD station Pirate FM against competitor Atlantic FM has been upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority.

The complaint came after Atlantic claimed to be The UK's new number one radio station in a local newspaper. An advert also claimed the station has more listeners than RAJAR suggests.

A direct mailing suggested Atlantic had 104,000* listeners. The asterisk was linked to text that stated "*RAJAR monthly listener figures, December ". Also, the newspaper events guide was headed with "Here and Now event listings in association with altlantic 105-107 fm … The UK's Number 1 New Radio Station".

Complaining, Pirate FM challenged whether the claims:"104,000* listeners", and "The UK's Number 1 New Radio Station" were misleading and could be substantiated.

Responding, Atlantic acknowledged that the RAJAR figure quoted in the ad did not refer to the number of listeners, but was the four-week predicted cumulative figure used to work out how effective an advertising campaign may be over several weeks. They said they had acknowledged to RAJAR that their use of the four week data in the context of an ad to consumers was inappropriate and contravened the RAJAR code of practice. However, Atlantic FM emphasised that because the claim was accurate and clearly labelled "monthly" no issue of false representation arose.

Talking about the Number 1 claim, Atlantic FM said it dated from 2007 and was based on a weekly reach comparison between Atlantic FM and other recently launched services. They sent the comparative RAJAR figures for the Weekly Reach of new stations for October 2007 and February 2008 and said the claim became out of date in April 2008. They said they had submitted the ad in March for publication in April and the copy had mistakenly been used again in the May and June editions of the press ad without their knowledge. They said that as soon as they became aware of the error they made sure the ad was not repeated. They said they had taken steps to guard against unintentional errors in the future.

The ASA upheld both aspects of the complaint, saying: "We welcomed Atlantic FM's assurance that they had taken steps to avoid making similar errors in future marketing." They have told Atlantic FM not to repeat the claims "104,000 listeners" and "The UK's Number 1 New Radio Station".

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