30 March 2001
Radio Authority publishes Programming & Advertising Review for fourth quarter of 2000
The Radio Authority is today (30 March) publishing its Programming & Advertising Review for October-December 2000.
The Review examines some important programming and advertising issues which were considered by the Radio Authority during the last quarter of 2000. One of the issues dealt with in the Review relates to two complaints that were received about the promotion of Classic FM's 'Relax More' album. Both complainants felt that the promotion of this album was excessive. The Authority investigated and found that Classic FM was likely to be in excess of what was deemed to be acceptable under our Advertising and Sponsorship Code for the promotion of in-house label CDs, particularly as the impression given to listeners would have been underlined by Classic FM's ongoing use of the 'Relax' theme to identify the station's output. This matter has now been resolved and the station is in full compliance with our Code. However, the Authority will continue to monitor the station on an ad-hoc basis.
The Authority has also warned stations of the need for care when scheduling advertisements for films or publications containing adult material with salacious, violent and sexual themes, after receiving complaints concerning three advertisements. One of the complaints related to the advertisement for the film 'Cherry Falls', another for an ad for a magazine article in the 'Evening Standard Magazine', and another for the film 'The Cell'. The Authority advises stations to consider their audience expectation and actual profile when deciding on the acceptability and scheduling of advertisements, particularly at times when children could be listening.
During October-December 2000, the Authority considered a total of 124 written complaints about commercial radio stations throughout the UK. 65 complaints concerned programming and related matters, of which fourteen were upheld. Of those upheld, four concerned accuracy, seven related to matters of taste and decency, two were about Promises of Performance/Formats, and one related to other matters.
The Authority also considered 59 advertising and sponsorship complaints, of which sixteen were upheld. Of those upheld, eleven related to misleading advertisements, two concerned offensive content, one concerned harmful content, and two related to other matters.
The Authority has also issued two Yellow Cards during the current Quarter (January-March 2001). The first was issued in February to Liberty Radio, the women's station in London, over religious content on the station. It was felt that a 6am programme and hourly thought-provoking messages which are branded as 'moments' had led the station into the realms of giving undue prominence to the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, the owners of the station.
The evangelical nature of the 6am broadcasts, which were 20 minutes long on occasions, breached the Advertising and Sponsorship Code (Section One, Rule 2). The broadcasts went beyond "legitimate objective coverage" as addressed within the Code. To all intents and purposes the programme was effectively sponsored, but as such failed the ruling concerning transparency (Section One, Rule 3.2), which demands that the listener must be able to recognise sponsored programmes and links to sponsors.
These broadcasts and the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God 'moments' also breached the Advertising Code rule (Section Two, Rule 1), which states that "licensees must ensure that the distinction between advertising and programming is not blurred, and that listeners are not confused between the two." The method of delivery was such that the distinction was not at all obvious.
Changes were made as a result of discussions with the Authority. We will continue to monitor the station, but regard these particular matters as resolved.
The second Yellow Card was issued to ITN News Direct in March over elements of its coverage. The Authority is currently in discussion with the station regarding these matters.
NOTES TO EDITORS
2. The Programming and Advertising Review replaces the printed copy of the Radio Authority'sQuarterly Bulletin which gives full details of all adjudications made by the Authority on programming and advertising issues.
3. The Authority will consider all comments or complaints about commercial radio on all aspects of programming, advertising and transmission. Complaints must be made in writing, giving precise dates and times of broadcasts. Complainants who telephone are sent a complaints form, also available on the Authority’s website, to assist them in mailing their complaints. The Authority will investigate, asking the station for copies of relevant tapes.
4. Radio stations are required to maintain recordings of all output for a period of 42 days. When it feels a complaint is justified, the Authority will take action with the station concerned.
5. The Authority can request a broadcast apology or correction. It can also impose a penalty which can include a fine or the shortening, suspension or revocation of a licence.
6. The Radio Authority is responsible for licensing and regulating Independent Radio in accordance with the statutory requirements of the Broadcasting Acts 1990 and 1996. It plans frequencies, awards licences, regulates programming and advertising, and plays an active role in the discussion and formulation of policies which affect the Independent Radio industry and its listeners.
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