Thursday, December 10, 2009

Galaxy told to shut up about iTunes

The commercial radio network chart show - now called bigtop40.com - has been told off by Ofcom for mentioning iTunes too much.

During the programme, listeners have been encouraged to head over to iTunes to buy downloads and "influence the chart" right up to the last minute. Ofcom has decided that this went a bit too far, and told them to stop doing it. ("Thus ruining its raison d'etre", as Simon T observes - indeed, there does seem to be a desire to earn whatever the referral fee is these days.)

Ofcom accepted that reference to “the iTunes top ten” was editorially justified as a means to explain the specific source and nature of the Big Top 40 chart’s top ten places. Likewise, Ofcom accepted that an occasional reference to the Big Top 40 chart being “powered by iTunes” could be editorially justified as a means to explain the nature of the entire chart, which was influenced by iTunes as a data source. However, Ofcom did not consider that the repeated references throughout the programme to iTunes (whether referring to the top ten or the chart more generally) served any further purpose and therefore appeared gratuitous. Ofcom considered there was insufficient editorial justification for the sheer number and frequency of these references.

What's equally interesting is that iTunes only "powers" the Top 10 of the chart:
While the top ten of the Big Top 40 chart reflect iTunes’ top singles download sales, positions 11 to 40 in the chart are informed by iTunes sales data but ultimately decided by Global Radio.

In other words, if I'm reading that correctly, three quarters of the chart is just made up? What sort of chart is this, anyway?

Also interesting is that Ofcom don't seem to have bothered themselves by asking if the claim that buying some downloads in the last hour of sales is really going to have any influence on the chart - set against a week's sales nationwide?


5 comments:

Daniel said...

The rundown of the Big Top 40 is this:

* Positions 11-40 are based on weekly Sunday-to-Sunday iTunes sales + radio airplay figures from the stations that carry the show. I don't exactly know the percentage balance of it, but I know that there is an adjustment leaning towards sales every ten positions.

* Positions 1-10 are entirely based on iTunes sales, but with a twist: the rankings aren't finished until the very moment the Top 10 starts to be revealed. Hence why the "listeners have been encouraged to head over to iTunes to buy downloads and 'influence the charts' right up to the last minute" bit."

Hope this helps.

simon h b said...

Doesn't this make for a maths nightmare around the place where the twenties gives way to the tens, for example?

I've never understood why airplay is added in to some charts. Well, I do - obviously, it's a way of making sure the same poorly-chosen records off the playlists appear in the charts, thereby retrospectively justifying their having been on the playlists. "See? They're popular, that's why we've been playing them."

mkb said...

Can this not mean that a song can be at, say, number 12 and number 10 in one week?

simon h b said...

Yes - never mind Rage Against The Christmas, you could really have fun by orchestrating a few thousand people to buy en masse whatever's number 40 in the chart while the programme is broadcasting, catapulting it up to number one as well.

Anonymous said...

Why would you need to keep buying a song when you're busy listening to the radio and you know it's the song is about to be played? It's a requests programme gone daft!

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