a a a Display Options Cymraeg
Follow Ofcom on Facebook Follow Ofcom on Twitter Subscribe to the Ofcom RSS Follow Ofcom on YouTube Follow Ofcom on YouTube

Independent regulator and competition authority
for the UK communications industries.

Search Ofcom


Broadcast Bulletin Issue number 173 10/01/11

Total Star, Banbury Sound, Zing, Code on the Scheduling of Television Advertising and Fairness and Privacy Cases

It is Ofcom's policy to describe fully the content in television and radio programmes that is subject to broadcast investigations. Some of the language and descriptions used in Ofcom's Broadcast Bulletin may therefore cause offence.

Standards cases

In Breach

Howard Taylor at Breakfast
Total Star Wiltshire, 4 October 2010, 06:00

Introduction

Total Star – Wiltshire (“Total Star”) is a network of three radio services covering Bath, Swindon and Warminster.

During Howard Taylor at Breakfast, the presenter trailed a competition sponsored by a local car dealership, Fish Brothers Renault.
 
When the presenter trailed the competition, he said:

“Total Star, Howard Taylor at Breakfast. Now, at Fish Brothers Renault they have gone back to the nineties with low, low prices on the Laguna, Twingo and Megane. And the fantastic Clio is on sale at the same price it was in the early 1990s as well. Check that out. You can find out more at our website, Total Star dot co dot UK. We’re giving you the chance to win some totally cool Renault Sport merchandise, after nine thirty this morning. As we go back to the nineties, I’m going to play you two nineties songs, with a little bit of information about the particular year, and if you can identify the year – simple as that – then the chances are, you could be walking away with the merchandise. You just have to text me, it’s as simple as that…”

When the presenter introduced the broadcast competition, later in the programme, he said:

“Now, all this week, we’re giving you the chance to win, with Fish Brothers Renault, some pretty cool Renault Sport merchandise. They’ve gone back to the nineties and there are low, low prices on the Laguna, Twingo and Megane. And the fantastic Clio is on sale at the same price as it was in the early 1990s. That is great value. Car for today, at yesterday’s price – See what they’ve done there? Although to be fair, there are limited stocks and once they’ve gone – It’s all going down at Fish Brothers Renault, Paddington Drive, in Swindon, and, this morning we are giving you a chance to win the merchandise. All you’ve got to do, is identify from the next two songs, and a little bit of information that I throw in between, the year in which these songs were hits, alright? It’s a nineties year. There’s two of ’em, both from one year. What is it?”

A listener was concerned about the presenter’s endorsement of the competition’s sponsor, Fish Brothers Renault.

Ofcom asked Total Star for its comments concerning both the competition feature

and its trail, with regard to the following Code Rules (-1-)

  • Rule 9.4: “A sponsor must not influence the content and/or scheduling of a … programme in such a way as to impair the responsibility and editorial independence of the broadcaster”; and
  • Rule 9.5: “There must be no promotional reference to the sponsor, its name … services, or products…”

Noting that Rule 9.11 of the Code states that “programme trails are treated as programmes and the same sponsorship rules apply”, we also asked the broadcaster for additional comments, concerning only the trail only, with regard to the following Code Rules:

  • Rule 9.6: “Sponsorship must be clearly identified as such by reference to the name … of the sponsor. For programmes, credits must be broadcast at the beginning and/or end of the programme” (-2-); and
  • Rule 9.7: “The relationship between the sponsor and the sponsored … programme must be transparent”.

Response

Total Star apologised, admitting that “on this occasion we did get it wrong” and the presenter was “a little overenthusiastic with his comments…” It said that these comments had not been made in return for payment or other valuable consideration, adding that the presenter’s intentions had been “in good faith.”

The broadcaster said that, to ensure no recurrence, it had “instigated a targeted training programme for [its] presenters to refresh their understanding of Ofcom’s expectations and rules.”

Decision

Companies may donate products to broadcasters, which may decide to use them as competition prizes. Such competitions may be sponsored by any legitimate sponsor, including the donor of the prize.

In this instance, Ofcom noted that:

  • Total Star said it had not received payment or other valuable consideration for the presenter’s comments about the broadcast competition sponsor’s special offers on various Renault cars (e.g. “… low, low prices on the Laguna, Twingo and Megane. And the fantastic Clio is on sale at the same price it was in the early 1990s as well”); and
  • Fish Brothers Renault had donated a selection of Renault Sport merchandise to Total Star, which had run a competition for listeners to win it.

On the basis of this information, it did not appear to Ofcom that the promotional references to Fish Brothers Renault, including apparent endorsement of its special offers (e.g. “check that out” and “That is great value”), were evidence that the sponsor had impaired the responsibility and editorial independence of the broadcaster, as prohibited under Rule 9.4 of the Code. Therefore the content was not in breach of this rule.

However, Rule 9.5 of the Code prohibits any “promotional reference to the sponsor, its name … services, or products…” in the relevant sponsored programming. In this instance, the presenter promoted Fish Brothers Renault’s special offers (i.e. the sponsor and its products) in both the sponsored competition feature and its trail, which were both therefore in breach of Rule 9.5.

Further, even though the presenter promoted Fish Brothers Renault and its products in the trail, and described the competition prize it had donated (i.e. “some totally cool Renault Sport merchandise”), no reference was made to the fact that the competition feature was also sponsored by the company. Listeners were not told that a sponsorship arrangement was in place between Total Star and Fish Brothers Renault, until later in the programme, when the presenter aired a sponsor credit ( “all this week, we’re giving you the chance to win, with Fish Brothers Renault…”), just before he conducted the competition feature itself.

Therefore no sponsor credit was broadcast at the beginning or end of the trail, in breach of Rule 9.6 of the Code. Further, throughout the trail, listeners were unaware of the sponsorship arrangement between Total Star and Fish Brothers Renault. The relationship between the sponsor and the sponsored content was not therefore transparent, in breach of Rule 9.7 of the Code. Where a commercial relationship exists between a licensee and a third party, it is important for the audience to be aware of that relationship.

We welcome the action taken by the broadcaster in this instance to avoid recurrence. However, Ofcom notes that content broadcast by Total Star was recently found in breach of the Code as it involved the promotion of products and services in programming (-3-). Ofcom is therefore concerned that products were promoted in programming on this second occasion. While the regulation of commercial communications in radio programming was revised significantly on 20 December 2010 (-4-), Ofcom expects Total Star to ensure that compliance issues do not arise under the new Section Ten (Radio) of the Code.

Footnotes:

  1.- This case was considered by Ofcom under the September 2010 Code (which was in force at the time of this broadcast). Broadcasters should note that, as of 20 December 2010, a new version of the Code is now in force, and in particular, a new Section Ten: Commercial communications in radio programming. Full information is available at: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/bcrradio2010/statement/

  2.- The ‘How to Use the Code’ section to the Code, which can be found at: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/broadcasting/broadcast-codes/broadcast-code/how-to/, states that, for radio, the word ‘programmes’ is taken to mean both programmes and programming.

  3.- See ‘Andy Henly at Drive’, inOfcom Broadcast Bulletin, Issue 170, published on 22 November 2010, at:http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/enforcement/broadcast-bulletins/obb170/issue170.pdf

  4.- Full details can be found at: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/bcrradio2010/statement/

Breach of Rules 9.5, 9.6 and 9.7

In Breach

Quizroads
Banbury Sound, 11 to 15 October 2010, 07:15 (and repeated at 08:45)

Introduction

Banbury Sound is a commercial radio station providing a music and information service for Banbury and the surrounding area (in Oxfordshire).

Quizroads is a listener competition feature that has run throughout the year and is broadcast each weekday during Banbury Sound’s breakfast show.

Each contestant takes part for one week, in five daily rounds, accumulating their score in each round by answering correctly as many questions as possible in 60 seconds. At the end of the competition, the highest scorer wins a prize pack worth £1,000, with any tie resulting in a ‘playoff’. Listeners register for possible entry into the competition by calling the station’s local phone number. Each week, an entrant is selected at random from registrations received to date.

Quidem, which had recently acquired Banbury Sound, on 1 October 2010, contacted Ofcom to say that, “following an allegation by other staff members, the presenter … admitted that he falsified the Quizroads contest for the week … by substituting a genuine listener with his 17 year old son playing the contest under an alias.”

Ofcom therefore asked Quidem for its comments on the matter with regard to Rule 2.13, which requires that “broadcast competitions … must be conducted fairly.”

Response

Quidem said that the presenter had “admitted that he constructed and broadcast a fraudulent entry to the Quizroads contest”. However, he had considered his action editorially justified, on the basis that he had been unable to make contact with the genuine entrant for that week’s part of the competition. The broadcaster added that it had since dismissed the presenter.

Quidem said that, on discovering what had occurred, it halted the competition, telling listeners that it would return soon. Subsequently, it had found no evidence that any contestant had been disadvantaged as a result of the presenter’s actions. The broadcaster noted that, currently, five listeners, which did not include the presenter’s son (i.e. the false entrant), were jointly in first place.

To avoid recurrence, the broadcaster said that all Banbury Sound staff had been issued with “the Quidem guidelines on the fair conduct of on-air contests” and reminded of their obligations concerning compliance with the Code.

Decision

Broadcasters must at all times ensure that the audience is not misled as to the fair conduct of a broadcast competition. It is never acceptable for a presenter to consider that faking a competition entrant is the best and most appropriate way to conduct a competition.

Broadcasters must therefore ensure that all staff responsible for conducting competitions are fully aware of the contingencies that may be acceptable to adopt, such as postponing a round of a competition, and those that should never be adopted, such as faking an entrant, In recent years, Ofcom has recorded numerous breaches of its rules relating to broadcast competitions. Ofcom has made it clear repeatedly that it expects all broadcasters to exercise particular caution in relation to the conduct of such competitions.

Ofcom noted that, on this occasion, the fake entrant had not answered sufficient questions correctly to join or beat the five entrants who were currently in first place. Therefore no consumer harm was caused. Further, the broadcaster took swift action to avoid recurrence. Nevertheless, by conducting the competition for a week with a fake contestant who was not a genuine entrant, the competition was conducted unfairly, and was therefore in breach of Rule 2.13.

Breaching the audience’s trust in this way is unacceptable, regardless of the circumstances in which it has occurred.
 
Breach of Rule 2.13


Advertising Scheduling Cases

In Breach

Advertising minutage
Zing, 3 to 14 September 2010, various times

Introduction

Rule 4 of the Code on the Scheduling of Television Advertising (“COSTA”) states that: “time devoted to television advertising and teleshopping spots on any channel in any one hour must not exceed 12 minutes”. This rule implements the requirements of the EU Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS) Directive.

As part of Ofcom’s routine monitoring of broadcasters’ compliance with COSTA, Ofcom observed that between 3 and 14 September 2010, there were ten separate incidents where Zing appeared to have transmitted more advertising than the permitted allowance of 12 minutes in a single clock hour.

Ofcom noted that these advertising overruns ranged from 54 seconds more than the permitted 12 minutes in a single clock hour, to five minutes and 46 seconds over the permitted minutage.

Ofcom wrote to Zee TV, the licence holder for Zing, to request its comments under Rule 4 of COSTA.

Response

Zee TV informed Ofcom that the infringements had occurred as a result of confusion during the integration of a new bookings system with existing technology. Zee stated that advertisements had been labelled incorrectly and, as a result, had been inserted manually into the transmission schedule in error after the finalised transmission schedule had been issued. Zee TV said that this had resulted in a series of advertising overruns.

Zee TV assured Ofcom that its scheduling team now knew how to label last minute advertising spots correctly to prevent advertisements being transmitted incorrectly, and its transmission operations team has been retrained to ensure they could prevent advertising overruns in the future.

Decision

On ten occasions, Zing broadcast more advertising than permitted by COSTA. Some of these instances represented significant overruns, for example, over five minutes more than the permitted minutage. The overruns were in breach of Rule 4 of COSTA.

Ofcom is particularly concerned about the significant length of advertising overruns in these cases, and the high number of occasions on which these overruns occurred.

In light of the assurances now given by Zee TV about improvements it says it has made to its processes, we will continue to monitor Zing closely and may consider further regulatory action if this problem recurs.

Breaches of Rule 4 of COSTA: 3, 5, 7, 9, 12 and 14 September 2010.


In Breach

Breach findings table
Code on the Scheduling of Television Advertising compliance reports

Rule 4b of the Code on the Scheduling of Television Advertising (“COSTA”) states: [On non-PSB channels] “time devoted to television advertising and teleshopping spots must not exceed an average of 12 minutes of television advertising and teleshopping spots for every hour of transmission across the broadcasting day, of which no more than 9 minutes may be television advertising.”

Rule 14 of COSTA states: “Breaks during programmes on public service channels may not exceed 3 minutes 50 seconds, of which advertisements may not exceed 3 minutes 30 seconds.”

Licensed service(s)

Transmission date and time

Code and rule / licence condition

Summary finding

The Africa Channel

4 September 2010,
08:00

COSTA
Rule 4b

The Africa Channel transmitted 43 seconds more advertising than permitted in a single hour.

Finding: Breach

ESPN

19 September 2010,
29:00

COSTA
Rule 4b

ESPN transmitted 51 seconds more advertising than permitted in a single hour.

Finding: Breach

UTV

6 October 2010,
19:00

COSTA
Rule 14

UTV transmitted 10 seconds more advertising in a centre break than permitted.

Finding: Breach


In Breach

Resolved findings table
Code on the Scheduling of Television Advertising compliance reports

Rule 4b of the Code on the Scheduling of Television Advertising (“COSTA”) states: [On non-PSB channels] “time devoted to television advertising and teleshopping spots must not exceed an average of 12 minutes of television advertising and teleshopping spots for every hour of transmission across the broadcasting day, of which no more than 9 minutes may be television advertising.”

Licensed service(s)

Transmission date and time

Code and rule / licence condition

Summary finding

Sky 2

13 September 2010,
23:00

COSTA
Rule 4b

Sky 2 transmitted 16 seconds more advertising than permitted in a single hour.

Ofcom recognises that this is the first issue of this type on Sky 2, and notes steps the licensee says it has taken to address the failure.

Finding: Resolved


The full document (Advertising Scheduling Cases / Other Standard cases / Fairness & Privacy cases) is available below

In this section

Issue number 173 10/01/11  PDF Document  (414 kB)

Full Print Version

Back to top

Related Items

a) Ofcoms Broadcasting Code (the Code) the most recent version of which took effect on 28 February 2011 and covers all programmes broadcast on or after 28 February 2011.

Note: Programmes broadcast prior to 28 February 2011 are covered by the version of the Code that was in force at the date of broadcast.

b) Programmes broadcast prior to 16 December 2009 are covered by the 2005 Code which came into effect on 25 July 2005 (with the exception of Rule 10.17 which came into effect on 1 July 2005).

c) Code on the Scheduling of Television Advertising (“COSTA”).

d) Other codes and requirements that may also apply to broadcasters, depending on their circumstances. These include the Code on Television Access Services (which sets out how much subtitling, signing and audio description relevant licensees must provide), the Code on Electronic Programme Guides, the Code on Listed Events, and the Cross Promotion Code.