Sam FM has apologised to Ofcom for a lapse in editorial judgement after a conversation about a sponsors product was broadcast.
The incident took place during commentary of a live rugby match which is sponsored by a car dealership, City Motors.
Ofcom received a complaint that comments concerning the Renault Twizy, made by match commentators, comprised “a 30-minute advert during the first half of the game”.
Their conversation included the following:
Presenter: “It was also noted, James, that you didn’t require a lift in the City Motors’ Twizy, which we’ve been driving around in this week”.
Commentator: “No. I don’t know whether I’d fit in the front seat, never mind the back seat! Is it a good drive?”
Presenter: “It is very exciting”.
Commentator: “Is it electric?”
Presenter: “It is fully electric, 100% electric. No emissions, it’s all green. You don’t even need any tax. And I should draw to the attention of our listeners that I drove it around and survived, so… and that says more about my driving than it does about the car, I think!”
Commentator: “Top speed?”
Presenter: “Top speed? 50 miles an hour”.
Commentator: “That’s all you need, isn’t it?”
Presenter: “Absolutely, I was going down The Portbury Hundred towards Portishead with some pace, a little, last week or so… As it comes back to the action just in front of us here!”
Rule 10.1 of the Broadcasting Code says “Programming that is subject to, or associated with, a commercial arrangement must be appropriately signalled, so as to ensure that the commercial arrangement is transparent to listeners”.
Celador considered it had clearly signalled that Sam Rocks Rugby was sponsored by City Motors at the beginning and end of each show segment, but added that, “with this type of live sports broadcast the level of sponsorship clarity is, at some points, dependent on when a listener tunes in”. It considered this was, “in this instance…exaggerated by the action on the pitch, which [broke] up the conversation between the [commentators]”.
Celador said: “A guest commentator filled a gap in the on-field action by starting a conversation [about] a car that had been supplied by the sponsor earlier in the week for an on-air promotion”. It considered “the guest’s questioning unintentionally [led] the presenter to further detail the sponsor’s product which, on this occasion, was a lapse in editorial judgment under the pressure of a live broadcast by the presenter”.
The Licensee clarified that “the conversation was not intended to be promotional for the sponsor and was not part of any commercial arrangement with City Motors”. It added that it had “immediately made changes to the production of the show to ensure clearer signalling of the show sponsorship [was] present at more regular intervals” and noted that “further training sessions on the broadcasting code [would] be run with all presenters and producers”.
In response to Ofcom’s Preliminary View, Celador apologised for its lapse in editorial judgement and confirmed that it had “taken steps to ensure that this isolated mistake is not repeated”.