Ofcom slaps yellow card on Sunrise’s Time 107.3


Media regulator Ofcom has slapped a yellow card on Sunrise Radio Group’s Time 107.3FM station for failing to operate within its license remit.

Time 107.3 broadcasts to the London Borough of Lewisham and surrounding areas with a mixture of music and speech content. With modest speech obligations (minimum of 20% weekday daytime, falling to 10% at weekends) the range of speech features, including hourly news bulletins, should make these targets easily achievable.

Significantly, the station�۪s musical direction is defined in the Format’s ‘Character of Service’ box, in that the output should reflect the interests of local listeners who favour Soul/Motown, RnB, Reggae and Dance Hits. With a cap on current/recurrent chart hits (no more than a third of music output), this service should have a distinct musical sound. Daytime music is complemented by a requirement for at least 7 hours of specialist music programming each week, outside of daytime.

According to findings from Ofcom, Time 107.3 has been broadcasting outside its agreed license format. The discovering was triggered following a listener complaint which raised concerns about Time 107.3�۪s Public File and general music output.

The Ofcom report of the findings said: “We carried out a spot check to assess both the content of the Public File, as well as the station�۪s compliance with its music Format requirements.

In this case, the complainant felt that the information contained in Time 107.3’s Public File about the amount of automation at the station was misleading. The Public File stated that there was no automation during the station’s daytime output and the listener queried whether the content of the Public File was intended as a “guideline” to a station’s output, or if it was supposed to give a full and accurate account of the service. We checked the station’s Public File which said, “we are committed to as much live programming as is practicable and as such we promise no automated programming during daytime.” We queried this with the station and it confirmed that outside of ‘breakfast’, daytime output was automated. Under the new regime of output regulation, this statement represents a significant error in the content of the Public File. The station has informed us that it has now updated the Public File information to accurately reflect its use of automation.”

The report continued; “The musical direction of Time 107.3 is clearly defined within the Format. Notably, Format is one where the station’s musical obligations are set out within the Character of Service’ box. The listener claimed that there was little evidence of stated genres within daytime output. We examined the music log for one weekday and asked the station to indicate how the music selection met the Format obligations. While the station felt that its output adequately reflected the stated genres, we agree. Firstly, it seemed that the station’s assessment included the track selection a specialist non-daytime programme and secondly, we did not accept the station�۪s
categorisation of some other tracks aired during daytime. Over 50% of the daytime output fell within the Hits/Pop genre. The station has told us that there are ongoing programming changes “designed to bring the music output on the station closer to the community”. While welcome these steps, in our view, it cannot be argued that the musical direction the station is so open to interpretation as to allow the stated genres to comprise the minority of the station�۪s daytime music output, especially when the musical direction of the service is so clearly stated within the ‘Character of Service’.”

Ofcom has informed the station that the yellow card will remain on the station until it fully rectifies its music policy as published on its license (format).

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