Jack FM - in breach for offensive station ID

By James Martin
Posted 29 June 2015, 7.53am edt
Matt Deegan

Jack FM Oxford have been found in breach for a "joke" about the Germanwings air disaster

Ofcom have been absolutely right to uphold this complaint. Who in their right mind signed this off? Is this really what perfectly good presenters have been sent to the JobCentre in favour of?


4 years, 6 months ago

Of course they were absolute right to uphold this: the station itself pulled it after it aired once. It's a mistake, and one that is embarrassing for the station, I'm sure.

Is this really what perfectly good presenters have been sent to the JobCentre in favour of?

Aha: so the crux of the matter isn't the errant ID, but is, instead, a repeated whinge about the JACK format of spending money on writers and producers instead of a roster of lacklustre presenters.

It's probably worth considering the following:

  • nobody signs off what presenters say in a live show
  • presenters who live dangerously are more likely to get into trouble therefore
  • 'perfectly good presenters' who do little other than tell the time and repeat the station ID are a complete waste of everyone's time and money

It's strange how in one breath, the internet is bemoaning the lack of personality and talent on the air, and then also bemoans it when a station sets out to do something different and makes a mistake. You can't have it both ways.

Either way, if I want "It's 12.45, that was Tina Turner, this is Bland FM and I've got the weather on the way after Take That" then there's plenty of stations for that. And there's no opportunity for upsetting Ofcom with bland, beige programming. Is that what you really want?

4 years, 6 months ago

Common sense deficit at Jack HQ then?

4 years, 6 months ago

Edgy brands will sometimes push it too far. You have to, otherwise you don't know what "too far" is. Yes, this was in poor taste and shouldn't have been broadcast, but we have to be careful not to create a fear of taking risks.

Hmm... I feel a blog post coming on...

4 years, 6 months ago

We love blog posts, and can host them and get them in front of thousands of people just saying (grin)

4 years, 6 months ago

At least James M didn't submit a complaint to Ofcom.

4 years, 6 months ago

The bit I find astounding was the station's response to the complaint

"The station said that, while tragic, the news story did not directly affect anyone living in the area to which it broadcasts. It disputed that the ident was offensive..."

Really. How can you know that? If I was living in Oxfordshire and I had, say, a cousin, a relation or even a friend who was on that flight, I would be directly affected.

4 years, 6 months ago

And, of course, this wasn't a maverick presenter crossing the line. It was a piece of scripted, voiced and produced station imaging. An astonishing and quite upsetting lapse in judgement made worse by station management having the temerity to challenge Ofcom's verdict.

4 years, 6 months ago

station management having the temerity to challenge Ofcom's verdict

I see no evidence of this taking place.

Ofcom "requested comments from the Licensee as to how this material
complied with Rule 2.3". The station gave those comments.

Unless I've missed something, I can't see that they've "challenged Ofcom's verdict". They were asked to explain themselves, they did so, and Ofcom has ruled against them.

4 years, 6 months ago

You did miss something James:

"It (Passion Radio) disputed that the ident was offensive"...

'Dispute', 'Challenge'? You say tomato....

4 years, 6 months ago

They didn't challenge the verdict, though, John.

To quote a bit more of the Broadcast Bulletin:

Ofcom considered that the station ident raised issues warranting investigation under
Rule 2.3 of the Code, which states that:
“In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material
which may cause offence is justified by the context…”.
We therefore requested comments from the Licensee as to how this material
complied with Rule 2.3.

They hadn't made a verdict at this stage. They were saying: "hey, do you think this material was offensive?", to which Jack replied "No, but it was in poor taste and we pulled it off". They disputed that the ident was offensive. They didn't challenge Ofcom's verdict: because Ofcom hadn't made a verdict to challenge.

To say they "challenged Ofcom's verdict" means that, once Ofcom had decided it was offensive (and presumably published the Broadcast Bulletin), Jack stood up and said "Silly Ofcom, of course it wasn't offensive, you know Jack and we know better". Which, for the avoidance of doubt, they didn't.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to wonder why the Hallé Orchestra doesn't radio jingles any more.

4 years, 6 months ago

Fair enough, so they 'disputed' Ofcom's 'view'. Blimey, I only came in for a quick browse!

I didn't realise there's an orchestra in Hale..

4 years, 6 months ago

Golly, I didn't realise this would be so difficult, John, but no, they didn't even dispute Ofcom's view, since Ofcom hadn't got a view when they asked the station to comment.

I hold you personally responsible for having to go to bed at 10.00pm because Signal Radio used to close down at that point, with a flourishing orchestral theme.

4 years, 6 months ago

"On behalf of the management and staff here at Studio 257 have a very restful night and here's to an enjoyable day tomorrow, whatever you've got planned. Thanks for listening…and goodnight………goodnight".

Sweet dreams Mr. C.

4 years, 6 months ago

Cue the 1khz tone..........

4 years, 6 months ago

Having seen what caused the offence, I think the person whose idea it was doesn't deserve to work in radio. This is not 'edgy', this is pathetic, childish and downright offensive. They're also saying that they're not at all dependable. Where is the joke in all this?

And do you pay for blog posts? :)

4 years, 6 months ago

Dom, I agree with you. The idea was ill-conceived and juvenile. Listeners deserve better.

Many broadcasters lose sight of the fact that they are a 'guest' in someones life. The listener can be someones granny or a wordly wise bricklayer, who both might enjoy your particular programme. (Apologies for the stereotypes)

A joke can be handled in so many ways. But it is always the more experienced presenter who will deliver the idea rather than the punchline to create that knowing smile.

Ken Bruce is a master at doing this. He assumes that his listener already knows the joke, so therefore eludes to that fact. If the listener remains bemused by his fleeting reference then no offence has occured.

Laying a potentially offensive punchline at the door is a display of inexperience and an appreciation of the listener. I was actually in a ski resort not that far away from where the Germanwings plane went down and I can tell you that from the Tuesday when the event occurred, no one in the resort used 'gallows humour' in any conversation I was involved in.

So Jack......make a joke out of Auschwitz........if you dare! Idiots!

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