TalkSport under fire for Gaunt broadcasts... again

UTV-owned national radio station TalkSport has been rapped by Ofcom for three shows presented by controversial DJ Jon Gaunt, which discussed living and buying property abroad.

Jon Gaunt: picture credit Dan Charity
Jon Gaunt: picture credit Dan Charity

The rulings refer to incidents some years ago but were believed to be placed on hold while the DJ participated in another High Court review.

The first broadcast took place in April 2006 from the Hotel Almyra in Cyprus and made various references to a property company Thomson OPI, with which TalkSport had entered into a commercial relationship.

Ofcom found the programme was in breach of the Broadcasting Code because TalkSport failed to maintain editorial independence, failed to make the commercial relationship clear to the audience, gave undue prominence to the hotel and Thomson OPI, and promoted their products or services.

In October 2008 Gaunt broadcast two shows from Spain which included reference to Football Village Ltd, the agent for a Spanish property developer, Valle Romano.

Though full broadcasts were not available Ofcom, after listening to excerpts from one of the shows, decided the programme contained unequivocal promotion and clear undue prominence for Football Village.

Ofcom's comments follow Gaunt being sacked from TalkSport 10 days after he called a local councillor a "Nazi" and an "ignorant pig" in a broadcast in November 2008. Ofcom ruled that Gaunt was in breach of the Broadcasting Code – a decision supported by the High Court in July but which the presenter has since submitted papers to appeal against.

Gaunt and TalkSport, in their submissions, disagreed with each other. Gaunt denied TalkSport’s suggestions that he bought a property from Thomson OPI prior to the 2006 show or that he had suggested a director from Thomson be a guest on the show.

Ofcom ruled that the disagreement between Gaunt and TalkSport was not material in its consideration of the case and that it was the fundamental responsibility of TalkSport to ensure the compliance of the material it broadcasts.

Ofcom said the circumstances of both these cases raised "significant concerns" about TalkSport's enforcement of the compliance procedures it had in place at this time of these breaches.

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