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Stations breach Ofcom rules

Two stations have found themselves in breach of Ofcom’s Rule 2.2, Your Radio and The Northern Media Group were both guilty of inviting listeners to text into shows that were not live but pre-recorded.

The Overnight Hit Mix (Your Radio) was pre-recorded ‘as live’ with it presenter soliciting listeners to text in to the show if they were celebrating a birthday “this weekend”. In response to Ofcom’s enquiry, Your Radio put the mistake down to the inexperience of the broadcaster and had suspended pre-recorded material for the foreseeable future. The media regulator ruled that the broadcast materially misled listeners and was therefore in breach of the Code.

The Saturday Night Warm-Up that aired on 6 September last year was pre-recorded and broadcast ‘as live’ and networked across Northern Media Group’s (NMG) six commercial radio stations in Northern Ireland: Five FM, Six FM, Seven FM, Q97.2, Q101 West and Q102. The presenter solicited texts from listeners on numerous occasions at one point even thanking them for their contribution: “Thanks for all your texts tonight – a lot of texts requesting that one from Underworld, ‘Born Slippy’.”

In response to Ofcom’s enquiry, Northern Media Group stated that there was no commercial motivation for encouraging listeners to interact with the show and that messages sent during the pre-recorded programme were checked in the days that followed and the presenter was encouraged to use them in the next available programme. Responding, Ofcom expressed extreme concern at the broadcaster’s lack of sufficient procedures in place to prevent the deception of its audience. Ruling that is was a serious breach of the Code and that it will consider further regulatory action in the event of any similar breach by any NMG station.

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