Coast and County Radio found in breach over incorrect showbiz news

Scarborough community station, Coast and County Radio has been found in breach of the Broadcast Code over a mistake in its showbiz news.

Ofcom received a complaint that a bulletin said that Barry Humphries was being treated in hospital, when he had actually died three days previously.

The station explained its news was supplied by IRN and on this occasion the importer had not updated properly. It added that the segment was immediately removed following a text from a listener and reported the error to IRN, who said other broadcasters were also having issues with the service.

Further investigation by the station found that IRN, which had recently upgraded its website, had not updated this particular streamed segment to the new website. It was decided to let the error pass without comment as it was widely known that Barry Humphries had died before the bulletin was broadcast and stories reminiscing about him had been told on air.

IRN confirmed it did experience an outage when it transitioned from the old to new Net Newsroom and had therefore advised its clients to switch back to the old site, however the outage happened three days after the programme in question was broadcast.

IRN also explained it doesn’t have a detailed audit logging system but said stories older than 48 hours are automatically deleted from both the new and old sites and that there are no archived stories on the Net Newsroom.

Ofcom was mindful of the explanation that the error was caused by an unexpected technical fault with the news content Coast and County Radio received from IRN, which meant archived material was inadvertently delivered on its service. However, it also acknowledged that IRN, in its separate representations, had disagreed with the station’s account and suggested that the fault was not theirs.

Ofcom also said that it was a significant mistake to let the error pass without comment and would expect the incorrect report to have been corrected on-air quickly.

The decision was a breach of Rules 5.1 and 5.2 of the Broadcasting Code. Ofcom has also requested a meeting with the Licensee to discuss its approach to compliance.

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