A Complaint about Complaints!


I’ve never understood why complaints that common sense would tell you, are not worth wasting your time with, get so much attention from people who run and regulate radio stations in the UK.

I read this week that Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo, presenters of the BBC Radio 5 Live film review show got into trouble for referring to an Apple product as a ‘fruit-related device’.

One listener complained that presenters were promoting Apple products. The BBC had their oversight body look into the complaint. The fact that someone complained is unbelievable enough but so is the fact that the complaint was taken seriously. What happened next is even more bizarre. The complaint was escalated to the BBC Trust’s editorial standards committee. How was this single complaint by one person allowed to get so much attention and waste so many people’s time?

This kind of nonsense is not unusual. In the run up to Christmas, a couple of years ago on BOB fm, we were running a toy appeal. To encourage people to donate, we set a target figure and said if we don’t get that number of toys by Christmas Eve, no one was getting any toys because we’ve kidnapped Santa.

We made out that Father Christmas was tied up and locked in the cupboard under the stairs at BOB fm. On the Breakfast show each morning, we let him out, removed the duct tape from his mouth and he pleaded for more toys. Then the duct tape was replaced and we shoved him back in the cupboard. We even made a ransom note using letters cut out of old magazines and newspapers and posted it on our website.

Someone actually complained to Ofcom that we’d kidnapped Santa. What’s more unbelievable is that Ofcom didn’t throw the complaint out. They took it seriously enough to demand that we hand over to them, three hours worth of the audio that was broadcast. After Ofcom listened to the audio, they held meetings about BOB fm to discuss the matter (BOB fm was not invited to these meetings) and eventually the General Manager of BOB had to send a written statement to Ofcom explaining to them that we hadn’t actually kidnapped Santa!

That’s right, the boss of a commercial radio station had to explain to the independent regulator for the UK communications industry that we didn’t really kidnap someone who does not actually exist!

And all of that wasted time and effort came about because of ONE complaint!

Craic on!

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