Bauer radio competition found to have breached Code, says broadcasting watchdog

A COMPETITION run on five radio stations across Scotland has been found to have breached regulations operated by the broadcasting watchdog, Ofcom.

According to Ofcom, Bauer Media – owner of Radio Clyde and several other Scottish radio stations – didn’t make it sufficiently clear that the competition, involving premium rate texting, was being run across its Scotland network and not just the radio station local to listeners.

Up for grabs was £1,000. Ofcom noted the competition included the promotional words: “Tell us where you’re texting from and I could be knocking on your door with a grand in my hand tonight.”

But the competition was being aired on the company’s Northsound 2, Clyde 2, Tay AM, Forth 2 and West Sound stations.

Ofcom was following up a complaint from a Northsound 2 listener.

Said Ofcom: “Without any information about the competitions being run over the five stations, listeners would have entered unaware that they were competing against a significantly larger number of people and therefore would have had a lower chance of being selected to win the prize than they were likely to have anticipated. Furthermore, stating on air that the presenter would hand deliver the prize was likely to have unintentionally added to the impression that the competition was being conducted locally.”

It ruled, therefore, that Rule 2.15 of the Broadcast Code had been breached as this states that rules for a competition must be clear and made known, particularly conditions that may affect a viewer or listener’s decision to participate.

Ofcom accepted that Bauer Media did not intentionally seek to mislead its audience.

Ofcom said of Bauer that “this particular competition was the first network competition across its AM stations in Scotland and as such, human error led to its normal compliance procedures not being adhered to”, quoting Bauer as saying this was “an isolated incident in an otherwise compliant operation”.

Ofcom added that Bauer’s defence included the assertion “the presenter responsible for delivering the prize does not disguise the fact that his particular show broadcasts over a number of stations”.

In September, Northsound 2, its sister station, Northsound 1, and Aberdeen-based Original 106 were found in breach by Ofcom for running adverts deemed ‘political’.

In a separate judgement, Northsound 1 was found to have breached regulations about the accuracy of competitions, following the station belatedly finding out that a competition it had run, arranged via a third party, was not for the final of the Eurovision Song Contest but the dress rehearsal, instead.