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Ofcom reaches Fever pitch

Radio Asian Fever, a community radio station in Leeds, has been found in breach of Ofcom rules for encouraging listeners to vote Labour, and keep the BNP out.

The regulator received a complaint that a political programme broadcast on the station on the 10th of May this year featured a local Labour councillor and a Labour candidate for the European parliamentary elections. It was claimed that the presenter and the two Labour representatives all encouraged listeners to vote Labour.

The presenter, who is also on the Board of the station, stated live on air “vote Labour to keep the BNP out”.

In referring to the European election ballot paper, the presenter said "…on the voting sheet, there’s a box where you vote for Labour isn’t it…one cross on Labour…just one tick on Labour”. He also made other direct calls to listeners to vote Labour including “you’re not voting for him [one of the Labour party members present] you are voting for the Labour Party”, “ just vote for Labour on 4 June” and “just tick your box on Labour”. Towards the end of the programme the presenter stated:

“…it is very, very important that everybody gathers and votes for the Labour Party on 4 June and keeps out the British National Party”

In response, Radio Asian Fever said it was asked to help a Labour candidate for the European parliamentary elections and a local Labour councillor, whose seats were under threat.

Having agreed to feature the candidates Mr Maroof Hussein and Mr Arif Hussein on-air, the Licensee said that it had not realised that the European elections were subject to the same requirements as local and national elections and that it should have referred to the Code before agreeing to feature them.

And although the station offered airtime to the other main parties, (once Ofcom had pointed out their error), the station breached the broadcasting code for failing to give exposure to a Liberal councillor who was unable to attend a pre-arranged interview.

The station was in breach of Rule 6.2 – Due weight to the coverage of political parties in elections, and Rule 6.1 – Due Impartiality at the time of Elections.

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