The BBC has upheld a complaint from the U.K. commercial radio sector that the publicly financed national top 40 station Radio 1 appeared to be endorsing the Coldplay tour.
It comes as Radio 1 unveils its live music and events program for 2009, including plans for a live broadcast from a Coldplay stadium show in September.
RadioCentre, the commercial radio trade body, wrote to the BBC executive fair trading committee complaints panel at the end of 2008 about the use of Radio 1’s logo in publicity for Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” tour.
The complaints panel has ruled that the use of the logo was likely to lead to the “perception of endorsement.” It added that guidance from the broadcaster’s marketing, communications and audiences division should be updated to require some form of context when using the Radio 1 logo.
However, a statement from RadioCentre said it was not entirely satisfied with the BBC complaints panel’s decision that the use of a BBC logo should be a “subjective assessment” by managers involved in the broadcaster’s marketing. It is now gearing up to address the issue further with the BBC Trust, including concerns about the BBC’s heavy promotional tie-up with U2 for its comeback.
RadioCentre added that the suggestion of endorsement “could have a detrimental impact upon the commercial market,” and that it was unnecessary for BBC logos to be included in artists’ promotion when any broadcast partnership could be promoted on air.
“We are delighted that the BBC fair trading committee has upheld our complaint about the use of the Radio 1 logo to endorse Coldplay,” said Andrew Harrison, chief executive of RadioCentre, in a statement.
“However, the proposed action – to revise guidelines – amounts to a token slap on the wrist. We will be appealing to the BBC Trust for much tougher changes to editorial and fair trading practice. The continued excessive and exclusive promotion of leading artists (like the recent U2=BBC events) using license payers’ money overwhelms the commercial sector’s ability to compete on a level playing field”.
“The panel has made it clear that this was not a deliberate attempt to imply endorsement and that the appropriate processes were followed,” said a Radio 1 statement. “This is a technical issue over how the Radio 1 logo is used and ensuring that context and information is given around it. We take note of the findings for the future.”
As well as live broadcasts from its own free Big Weekend event in Swindon on May 9 and 10, Radio 1 will also be broadcasting from many of the major U.K. festivals this summer including Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds, T in the Park, Download and Creamfields.
Radio 1 will also be broadcasting from a Take That stadium show as well as specialist music events including the Underage Festival, the Warehouse Project, Eurosonic and Sonar.