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Cool FM found in breach of rules by Ofcom

By James Cridland for media.info
Posted 6 October 2014, 7.09am edt

Bauer Media
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Belfast radio station Cool FM has been found to have misled its audience in a pre-recorded request show hosted by Kathryn Wilson.

A listener complained that the presenter had been doing a live DJ set in a nightclub on 6th April, while simultaneously asking for requests on-air on a programme on Cool FM.

Ofcom described the programme to have contained "pre-recorded fabricated messages" from listeners, intended, said the regulator, as to be perceived as real-time contributions to the programme. Ofcom's website contains some examples; and also points out that text messages to the station are charged at premium rate. The programme was also referred to as "live" at least once, according to Ofcom's monitoring.

Cool FM have disciplined the presenter, reimbursed listeners, and taken steps to prevent a recurrence of the issue. However, Ofcom has found the station breached rule 2.2 of the Ofcom Guidance Notes and was materially misleading.

Cool FM is operated by Downtown Radio Limited, a part of the Bauer Media Group.

In 2007, Virgin Radio's Friday night request show, presented by Madness singer Suggs, was cleared of being misleading by ICSTIS when it, too, asked for listener contributions via premium-rate text despite the programme being pre-recorded (and Suggs appearing live on TV).

James Cridland — James is the Managing Director of media.info, and a radio futurologist: a consultant, writer and public speaker who concentrates on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business. His website is at james.cridland.net, where you can subscribe to his weekly newsletter.
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