Cool FM & Downtown Radio in Ofcom breach for inaccurate news

Cool FM and Downtown Radio have been found in breach of Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code for reading out inaccurate news.

A complainant alerted Ofcom to a news bulletin that they considered inaccurate on June 18th 2017 at 4pm.

The newsreader said: “The man who killed Colin Horner in front of his three-year-old son has been charged with murder..”

The cover journalist who read out the inaccurate news was hired by the station at the same time the Bauer Radio Awards were taking place in London.

The un-named news presenter said that they had made a mistake, for which they apologised, adding that, “as a novice journalist”, they were “delighted to [have been] offered cover work … at Cool FM / Downtown Radio from 16/06/17 to 18/06/17 while the news team attended [an external event]”.

Ofcom said: “In this instance, a news bulletin about the murder of Colin Horner in Northern Ireland stated that “[t]he man who killed [Mr Horner] in front of his three-year old son has been charged with murder.

“At the time of the broadcast this was not correct because it had not been established in a court of law that “[t]he man” referred to in the news bulletin had indeed killed Colin Horner. Rather, at that time, an individual had been charged but was still to appear in Court to face those charges. It was, therefore, inaccurate for the presenter to state that “[t]he man who killed Colin Horner…has been charged with murder”.

With regards to Bauer’s response, Ofcom added: “We disagreed with the Licensee’s argument that, “if it subsequently transpires that [a suspect] pleads or was found guilty it will be the case that there was no breach of Rule 5.1 as the news would indeed have been reported with due accuracy”.

“The material time for ensuring that factual circumstances are duly accurate is at the time of the broadcast. At the time of this broadcast, the Licensee incorrectly stated that the man charged with Mr Horner’s murder had killed him, when, in fact, he had only just been charged.”

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7 Comments
  1. Neal says

    A totally trivial compliant as against what Ofcom have allowed Global to do last week!!
    For god sake Ofcom just go away will you. You have now allowed the creation of the masters of the cosmos and are no longer required!

    1. Bill says

      Risking being in contempt of court is not trivial. Disappointing to read Bauer’s response to the complaint.

    2. Sj says

      A trivial complaint?! Calling someone a murderer before they’ve even appeared in court? This is about as serious as it gets from a media law point of view.

      1. Mr Boltar says

        Oh FFS , a novice made a mistake, it happens, don’t get your knickers in a twist. There was nothing the station management could have done about it. Have you never made a mistake at work?

        1. Rupert Brun says

          I think it serious to call somebody a murderer before they have been tried. What if they are found innocent? And the station could have done something about it – they could have hired a competent journalist.

  2. Radio Geordie says

    If this had been a community radio service, Ofcom would’ve revoked their licence.

  3. Nick says

    No. This is more important than anything else

Comments are closed.