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Station breaks sponsorship code

Raaj FM, a community radio station in the West Midlands, has been found in breech of its licence for breaking Ofcom sponsorship rules.

A presenter on the station spent up to three minutes at a time promoting the services of his show's sponsor.

The regulartor got involved after a listener complained that the presenter of the programme “repeatedly plugged the sponsor’s details…”

Ofcom said that the presenter appeared to promote the programme’s sponsor within four lengthy sponsor credits. Each credit lasted between approximately one and three minutes. The credits not only stated that the programme was sponsored by Cape Hill Solicitors, but also included advertising messages, which: informed listeners that the sponsor was “experienced in immigration and asylum cases, as well as asylum appeals”; detailed the sponsor’s free services; solicited listeners to contact the sponsor; and provided the sponsor’s contact telephone number and two postal addresses.

The rules say the primary purpose of a sponsor credit on radio is to inform the audience of the sponsorship arrangement and should be brief.

In defence, the station told Ofcom the presenter had “a style that [involved] an element of repetition and explanation of points which other presenters would not labour”, adding that this style was also “represented within the sponsorship credits with unnecessary repetition of key words and phrases and explanations that were not required.” It considered that “other presenters faced with the same task would have a different style and would present the sponsorship credit succinctly and in a much shorter time.”

The broadcaster said that it had also “reinforced” its training of presenters, “to highlight the difference between advertisements and sponsorship and the primary purpose of sponsorship credits being to inform listeners of the sponsorship arrangement.”

Ofcom welcomed Raaj FM’s actions concerning its future broadcast of sponsor credits.

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