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BRMB in breach for web plug

Orion’s BRMB has been found in breach of the Ofcom broadcast code after a news bulletin directed listeners to the station’s website to buy tickets for Take That concerts.

It happened in October, when the announcement of the band’s Progress 2011 tour was the lead story.

A listener complained to Ofcom that the newsreader’s plug was tantamount to advertising, since the rules in place at the time stipulated that products and services shouldn’t be promoted in programmes.

Orion Media told Ofcom that they didn’t consider the material to be problematic, saying that the reference to the availability of tickets on BRMB’s website was a “factual single statement, not a repeated insistence”. They argued that “news stories often point listeners to useful places for further relevant information”, and added that that mentioning their own website instead of a specific ticket websites was “less commercial”.

In response, Ofcom accepted that the high demand for tickets meant the story was a relevant lead news story, but didn’t agree with Orion it was an example of the news presenter pointing listeners to ‘useful places for further relevant information’.

An Ofcom spokesman said: “We noted that the presenter advised listeners that they could buy concert tickets from the broadcaster’s website, and gave details of when they would be available to purchase. Irrespective of the fact that the presenter referred listeners to the broadcaster’s own website, rather than to a third party website, the presenter nevertheless promoted a product in news programming.”

Ofcom decided that the web tease was in breach of Rule 10.3 of the broadcast code.

David Lloyd, Orion’s Group Programme Director, told RadioToday.co.uk: “We accept Ofcom’s ruling. They agree with us that the Take That story was clearly news. We had, however, also judged that listeners would have found mention of our own website useful in finding out more and helping them secure tickets at one of the world’s fastest selling concerts – and thus editorially defensible. Ofcom disagreed on that.”

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