UK Radio Group Gets Record Fine after Phone-in Probe

30 June 2008

LONDON: UK media watchdog Ofcom has slapped a record £1.1 million ($2.18m; €1.38m) fine on radio group GCap Media over a listener phone-in competition scandal.

The regulator says the company's obstruction of its investigation ensured the penalty imposed was greater than it might have been.

Ofcom condemned GCap's behaviour as "inexcusable" and accused it of a "fundamental disregard" for its broadcasting obligations.

The radio giant, which was taken-over by Global Radio for £375m earlier this year, was fined for a phone-in contest it ran in January 2007.

It was alleged that entrants with wrong answers were deliberately selected to go on air to prevent the prize being won too quickly.

In addition, Ofcom says GCap hindered its investigation by refusing to provide details and submitting information that was ambiguous.

In its findings the regulator stated: "Ofcom took the view that the production team's actions were calculated and deliberate, and evidenced a complete disregard for those listeners who paid to enter, as well as the audiences overall. This was inexcusable."

In response GCap said it took the ruling "extremely seriously" and added: "The new management and owners look forward to building a strong future for the commercial radio industry where the trust of its listeners and of its regulator is of the highest importance."

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff