Thursday, June 22, 2006


The reorganisation of what used to be a collection of distinctive local AM stations into a grey gloop takes another step at Magic, with Dave Lee Travis being dragged back from BBC Local Radio to host a networked Saturday show and Eamonn Holmes doing a slot on Sunday.

The management at EMAP claim this further centralisation of its network is a good thing for everyone:

Steve King, the programme director of Emap's Big City stations, said: "It's important that the Magic AM stations adapt to reflect and respond to our listeners' interests.

"We will be introducing more networked programming focusing on the 60s and 70s music our audiences love, whilst retaining a local feel to the stations with the breakfast and news programming."

Since the news on Magic is, shall we say, somewhat rushed, this means that for the bulk of the time radio licences which were won on promises of local content are going to be delivering programming that isn't.

But we imagine the adverts will be local.

EMAP's management of its radio assets was called into question earlier this week when Ofcom delivered a record fine following repeated lapses at Kiss FM.

The Bam-Bam show had broadcast a "wind-up" call without permission from the target; he'd called the show's answering machine by mistake thinking he was speaking to his HR department and looking to discuss his forthcoming redundancy. Bam-Bam's sidekick called him back, pretending to be from personnel, and subjecting the target to a tirade of abuse.

We didn't know it was possible for an organisation to be collectively open-mouthed, but Ofcom managed it:

In the Committee’s view, to have conducted the hoax telephone call with Mr R was a serious offence in its own right, to then broadcast it was incomprehensible, but to broadcast it without consent was inexcusable, and to broadcast it without anyone with responsibility for the station’s output listening was an abject failure of both compliance procedures and management.

In addition, there were six months of sloppy standards when it came to swearing and inappropriate content:

November last year suggests that for a substantial period of time the compliance of the show was evidently not under proper control. There appeared to be a total inability of management to impose structures to ensure that there was adequate compliance with Ofcom’s Codes and that the station broadcast acceptable material at this time. Senior management at the company admitted to, what they referred to, as taking their “eye off [their] core duty”. These failures meant that an Ofcom investigation of some very serious complaints was not adequately dealt with. For instance, the material relating to the most serious fairness and privacy complaint Ofcom had received was not listened to by anyone senior at the station for four weeks. It appeared to Ofcom that Emap Radio had little control or sight of local management and was not seeing any warning signs until it was too late. Emap Radio admitted that the new procedures they had put in place after another of its licensees (Key 103 FM Manchester) was fined by Ofcom were not sufficient. The Licensee was unable to manage its “talent” and the result was the termination of a number of contracts of on and off air staff.

Perhaps that's why EMAP is so keen to network so much of its output - if there's only a few shows going out, it might be easier for them to keep an eye on what they're actually broadcasting.