Adjudication of the Ofcom Content Sanctions Committee – British Broadcasting Corporation, in respect of its service Radio 2

Published date18 December 2008
IssuerOffice of Communications
Ofcom Content Sanctions Committee
Consideration of
sanctions against
The British Broadcasting Corporation (“the BBC”) in
respect of its service Radio 2.
For Breaches of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code (“the
Code”) of:
Rule 2.11: “Competitions should be conducted fairly,
prizes should be described accurately and rules should
be clear and appropriately made known”.
Relating to the following conduct:
The inclusion of competitions in eight pre-recorded
editions of Dermot O’Leary broadcast ‘as live’.
Listeners to the broadcasts were invited to
participate in the competitions when they had no
chance of entering or winning.
Between June 2006 and December 2006
Decision To impose a financial penalty (payable to HM
Paymaster General) of £70,000 and, in addition, to
require the BBC to broadcast a statement of
Ofcom’s findings on its service Radio 2, on a
specified occasion, at a time, and in a form to be
determined by Ofcom.
1.1 For the reasons set out in f ull in the Decision, under powers delegated from
the Ofcom Board to Ofcom’s Content Sanctions Committee (“the
Committee”), the Committee decided to impose statutory sanctions on the
BBC in light of the serious nature of its breaches of the Ofcom Broadcasting
Code (“the Code”).
1.2 This adjudication under the Code relates to the broadcast of Dermot O’Leary
on Radio 2 on 3 June 2 006, 1 July 2006, 29 July 2006, 5 August 2006, 26
August 2006, 16 September 2006, 21 September 2006 and 9 December
1.3 Dermot O’Leary was a weekly radio show, usually transmitted live, that was
broadcast on Saturday afternoons on Radio 2 between 16:00 and 18:00 (and
until 18:30 from autumn 2006). The programme regularly f eatured a listener
competition in which the presenter posed three questions to two contestants.
The contestants competed against each other to win a prize, usually concert
tickets. Entrants to the competition were solicited via the programme’s
website, its newsletter and in on-air ‘calls to action’.
1.4 Due to the presenter’s other work commitments, eight editions of Dermot
O’Leary were pre-recorded and broadcast ‘as live’ between June 2006 and
December 2006. Each of these eight programmes included: invitations to the
listeners to the broadcasts to enter the competition; and, later in the
programme, the competition itself. No information was given to listeners
during the programmes about how entrants would be selected to participate in
the competitions
As all eight programmes had been pre-recorded, listeners
had no chance of entering or winning the competitions. (The programmes
also included other invitations to listeners to interact with the programme,
which, although not competitions and not themselves found to be in breach of
the Code, contributed to the overall misleading impression that the
programmes were being broadcast live).
1.5 On five of these occasions, listeners were invited to enter the competition via
telephone, text or email. Telephone entry was via an 0500 number
. Text
entry was charged at standard network rate. Email entry was regarded as
free. The entry mechanism in the other three pre-recorded programmes was
by telephone only.
1.6 On the eight occasions when the programme was going to be pre-recorded,
the production team selected competition entrants from listeners who had
contacted the programme in response to information on the programme’s
website or newsletter. These listeners were then contacted by the production
team on the day of the recording to check if they were available to participate
in a pre-recorded edition of the show.
The programm e title Derm ot O’Leary is distinguished from the presenter himself by the use
of italics throughout this Adjudication.
In 2006, 0500 telephone numbers were f ree of charge to BT customers, but m ay have been
subject to a charge by other landline and mobile phone service pr oviders. The te lephone
entry route in this case did not generate any revenue for the BB C.

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