Formatting errors

OFCOM, the UK Communications regulator, has been monitoring the output of Ocean FM, described as “an Adult Contemporary music and information station targeting 25-44 year-olds in South Hampshire”.

The regulator is Not Amused. Here’s the nub of the matter:

Ocean’s core music remit, as set out in the Format’s Character of Service, is to be an Adult Contemporary station for 25-44 year-olds in South Hampshire. Listening to the
station and carrying out analysis of the music logs for the three days, we noted that Ocean is currently interpreting its Adult Contemporary Format in a very Adult Rock type of way, with the inclusion during daytime programming of a high number of classic and alternative/modern rock tracks such as Arctic Monkeys/Fluorescent Adolescent; The Jam/Going Underground; Lynyrd Skynyrd/Sweet Home Alabama; The Cure/Friday I’m In Love; The Clash/Should I Stay Or Should I Go; The Who/My Generation; and The Buzzcocks/Ever Fallen In Love.

Nevertheless, we recognise that within the context of its Format Ocean could legitimately argue it is providing a more rock-leaning ‘Modern AC’ or ‘Hot AC’ type of format often seen in the USA and other commercial radio markets, and we also noted the inclusion of a number of more typical mainstream AC tracks on the playlist such as Robbie Williams/Angels; Simply Red/Fairground; 10cc/Dreadlock Holiday; Take That/Patience; Spandau Ballet/Gold; Michael Jackson/Off The Wall; Anastacia/Left Outside Alone; Madonna/Like A Prayer and Rod Stewart/You’re In My Heart.

The Format allows for (but does not require) up to 30 hours per week of specialist music programming, and Ocean provides a 1980s-themed ‘Skool Daze’ show and Alice Cooper’s rock programme, which are both aired on Friday and Saturday nights.

As previously noted, Ocean FM’s Format requires that “music programming will be
predominantly (up to 70%) current a/c [Adult Contemporary] tracks and those from the previous twelve months, along with a spread of a/c hits from across the years.” Ofcom’s monitoring of the station across the three days showed that, excluding Alice Cooper’s specialist rock show, an average of just 9.5% of the tracks aired by Ocean were either current tracks or tracks drawn from the past 12 months. (This compares to the minimum 51% of current and recurrent tracks that would be required to constitute the “predominant” ingredient of the station’s music programming).

We therefore concluded that Ocean is in clear breach of its Format, and a Yellow Card warning has been issued. If we find that these issues have been addressed when we monitor the station again, then the Yellow Card will be lifted.

There’s something deliciously quaint about this, don’t you think? It’s so redolent of the old world of broadcasting. And the idea of receiving a licence for a particular ‘format’ is just wonderful.

Thanks to Geoff Peters for spotting it.