Today’s Newspapers: February 20th 2009

Derry Journal – Derry-based radio station breached industry rules

Derry-based radio station breached industry rules

A Derry based radio station has admitted misleading listeners by inviting them to contact a show that had been pre-recorded.

The Saturday Night Warm Up was broadcast across all six of Northern Media Group’s (NMG) stations – including Derry’s Q102 – on September 6 of last year.

During the programme, portrayed as being broadcast live but in reality having been pre-recorded, listeners were encouraged to contact the show on a number of occasions.

At one point the presenter even thanked listeners for their contributions saying ” Thanks for all your texts tonight – a lot of texts requesting that one from Underworld, ‘Born Slippy’.”

Industry watchdog Ofcom investigated the show after receiving a complaint from a listener.

Ofcom found NMG to be in serious breach of the broadcasting code in relation to the programme. The industry regulator said: “Ofcom is extremely concerned that the broadcaster failed to have sufficient procedures in place to prevent the deception of its audience. In this case the presenter not only pre-recorded ‘calls to action’ that stated or implied the possibility of immediate audience interaction with the programme but also reported on fictitious messages, which the presenter claimed to have received during the programme. This was unacceptable and in breach of the Code.”

Ofcom accepted NMG had made no commercial gain from inviting listeners to contact the show but found they had deceived their audience.

“As the programme progressed, the audience would have believed that some listeners had interacted with it.

Listener trust

“The presenter appeared to intend deliberately to deceive listeners, in a serious breach of listener trust.”

Responding to Ofcom’s concerns NMG said messages that were sent to the broadcaster during the pre-recorded programme were checked in the days that followed and the presenter was encouraged to use them in the next available programme.

NMG said that the practice resulted from deficiencies in its policies and procedures. Those procedures have since been amended and NMG has apologised for the breach.

Audience interaction no longer features in pre-recorded editions of the Saturday Night Warm Up.