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Halloween show in February ‘was a spoof’

A community radio station, which provided Ofcom with recordings of ‘live output’ from February that mentioned Halloween and New Year, has had a second breach recorded against its licence.

The regulator was looking into claims Brick FM in the Scottish Borders wasn’t meeting its promised format of 25% speech output and 10 hours of live programmes per day.

Back in February, Ofcom recorded a breach against the licence for failing to provide recordings and information about programmes broadcast. This followed several months of asking for recordings in order to be able to assess whether the station was meeting its Key Commitments.

Following the first breach, the station did comply with a further request from Ofcom for recordings so that they could assess two days’ output from February 2011. After listening, Ofcom decided that speech content fell below 25%, and the amount of live programming didn’t appear to be 10 hours a day.

On a disc containing output broadcast on Wednesday 23 February 2011, the Kilted Jock’s programme, listed as live on the schedule provided by Brick FM, referred to New Year’s celebrations as recent and wished listeners a Happy New Year throughout the show. Dave the Brick’s show, on the same disc of output broadcast on Wednesday 23 February 2011 and listed as live, referred throughout the programme to the previous weekend’s Halloween party.

Ofcom asked the licence holder for their views on whether their Key Commitments were being met. Brick FM said some programmes were 100% speech so ‘on an average week this percentage (25%) would be exceeded’.

Brick FM also said that they live output for 10 hours per day on average and that the two programmes that Ofcom highlighted as not appearing to have been broadcast live were in fact broadcast live and were spoof programmes. They added:

“Kilted Jock was taking the Michael by saying and referring to New Year. I wished him a Happy New Year as I had not seen him since last year and we had phone calls as people thought he had lost his marbles. It was all just a bit of fun. Also, my own programme [Dave the Brick] about a Halloween Party. There was no party and it was all part of my imaginative mind. I have made at least 2 other programmes on the same theme and often refer to this in other broadcasts. I make a number of programmes each week but I make daft programmes every week. Most are about local people and happenings. Some dead and some alive and sometime have fantasy guests like Sadam Hussein, Bin Ladden. These programmes were made live on this date.”

Ofcom said that other programmes listened to as part of their monitoring and listed as live by the station didn’t include any indication that they were broadcast live, such as references to current news items or local what’s on information, dates, or even time-checks by presenters.

The regulator concluded that on the two days for which recordings were provided, the station wasn’t providing the service as described in its Key Commitments document and was therefore in breach of its licence.

Ofcom added: “We are continuing our dialogue with the licensee regarding its general compliance with its licence conditions and will monitor its output again in due course. The licensee has been put on notice that continued noncompliance with its key commitments may result in further regulatory action being taken.”

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