September 30th, 2009 at 10:49am
Britain’s broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, really are over-zealous. Over here in Australia, ACMA only make a noise if somebody goes through the long complaint process, and even then barely do anything…in the UK though, if you so much as sneeze, Ofcom will notice.
A community radio station has been censured by media regulator Ofcom for a “severe and unacceptable breach of listeners’ trust” after reading out fake listener texts on a pre-recorded music show.
Radio Hartlepool admitted making up listeners’ texts on some editions of its morning show, on its Classic 9 at 9 feature, which were pre-recorded but broadcast as live.
The show contained appeals for listeners to send in texts, but they had no chance of having them read out because the show was not live, said Ofcom.
The station said four out of six broadcasts of the show it had on record they had been pre-recorded.
Ofcom said it was “particularly concerned that, on all four occasions when the Classic 9 at 9 was known to be pre-recorded, fictitious references were made on air to listeners who had supposedly contacted the programme. This was a severe and unacceptable breach of listeners’ trust.”
And what’s to say that the texts weren’t read on a future pre-recorded show?
Seriously, who cares? It’s part of the theatre of radio, and sometimes an imaginary listener is a perfect instrument to drum up a bit of interest, especially when it puts a point not already put by somebody else that is worthy of consideration.
Pretending to run a live talk programme and soliciting for calls would be reprehensible, as there would be an expectation that the calls would be live and the listeners ringing in would have a chance of getting on the air. Text messages, emails and faxes on the other hand are static non-interactive content which, unless otherwise noted, aren’t necessarily going to get to air in the current broadcast, even if it’s live.
Admittedly Ofcom have a relatively immature competitive radio market to deal with when compared to other nations, but this sort of overreaction isn’t helping to nurture the radio market, instead it is helping to discourage it. If people don’t like their text messages being held over or not read, they will stop sending them…the station might notice that and see a problem…but as far as I can tell, people were still sending messages.
I don’t see a problem here, Ofcom’s reaction excluded.