Capital and Classic FM owner GCap Media has been fined a record £1.1m by media regulator Ofcom for running a listener competition that entrants had no chance of winning. The Secret Sound competition was run on 30 local radio stations in GCap’s One Network.
It is the highest financial penalty be imposed on a UK commercial radio company by a regulator. GCap was found in breach of the Broadcasting Code after Ofcom discovered that programme makers deliberately put on air text entrants with incorrect answers in order to prevent the prize from being won too soon.
Ofcom says in a statement: “As a result, those listeners who had paid to enter the competition on these occasions had no chance of winning.” It adds: “The seriousness of the compliance failures was compounded by some of the actions taken by GCap after the incidents had come to light.”
It is the second time GCap has been fined over the Secret Sound competition, which ran in January last year. PhonePayPlus, the premium-rate phone regulator previously known as Icstis, fined the group £17,500 last year for “manipulative practice” that demonstrated that the competition “was not run in good faith”.