Two shows aired on MATV earlier this year have got the channel in trouble with media regulator, Ofcom.
The shows in question – ‘Bahran Punjab Diyan’ and ‘Financial Matters’ were broadcast on Thursday 12th March. Ofcom was concerned about the promotional nature of the shows and about MATV۪s inability to respond to Ofcom promptly.
In ‘Bahran Punjab Diyan’ the presenter, a studio guest solicitor and callers discussed legal issues. During the programme the presenter promoted the guest solicitor and the company he represented. The guest solicitor also promoted his services.
A viewer was concerned that the business of one of the experts was promoted throughout ‘Financial Matters’. Four times during the programme (for periods in excess of four, two, one and six minutes respectively) a white banner was screened containing contact details of the guest presenter.
An advertisement for the presenter’s business was broadcast during commercial breaks appearing in and around ‘Financial Matters’. It featured him and promoted the advertiser۪s contact telephone number the same number promoted in the white banner that was broadcast during the programme.
Furthermore, in the course of this investigation, MATV failed on a number of occasions to provide Ofcom with requested material in a timely manner, as required under its licence to broadcast.
In response, MATV had provided material to Ofcom “as and when requested”. It further added that it had “no communications issues regarding providing information to Ofcom” and stated the reasons for the delay in the provision of specific material was due to ill health.
MATV assured Ofcom that the broadcast of neither programme had been subject to a commercial arrangement with a third party. The broadcaster added that it had no intention to breach Code rules and both programmes had therefore been removed from air pending Ofcom۪s decision on the matters raised.
However, Ofcom does not accept that MATV had provided material to Ofcom “as and when requested” or that it had had “no communications issues regarding providing information to Ofcom.” Ofcom notes, for example, that MATV failed to:
ۢprovide the English translation of some material, as requested by Ofcom;
ۢinform Ofcom in advance of its inability to meet a deadline;
ۢrequest of its own volition an extension for the provision of any material it was unable to provide on time; and
ۢarrange contingency plans for the provision of material to Ofcom, when one specific contact was incapacitated or unavailable.
The broadcaster was therefore in breach of conditions of its licence, which require, among other things, that recordings or transcripts requested by Ofcom are provided “forthwith” and that the licensee will “furnish to Ofcom” information “in such manner and at such times as Ofcom may reasonably require it.”
Ofcom has put MATV on notice that it will consider further regulatory action in the event of any further recurrence or serious compliance failure in the future.