Ofcom investigates Greatest Hits Radio over sentencing petition
Ofcom has launched an investigation into Greatest Hits Radio over the station’s campaign which calls for offenders to be prevented from refusing to attend sentencing hearings.
The watchdog said on Monday the probe will look at whether the radio station complied with broadcasting rules around impartiality and accuracy.
Greatest Hits Radio’s Face the Family petition, which began earlier this year, has been made directly to Parliament and was mentioned by a newsreader on Ken Bruce’s show.
On April 13, the broadcast also included clips in support of the campaign and listeners being directed to a website, according to Ofcom.
A spokesperson said Ofcom “does not seek to question the merits” of the campaign.
The petition, which was broadcast more than 30 times on the radio station, calls for new laws to “require offenders to be in court for sentencing, to give victims and their families every chance to witness justice be delivered”.
The radio station said this could involve prison and court staff being “given powers to use reasonable force to get offenders into the dock – as they do to transfer them from a court to prison”.
More than 13,000 people have signed the petition.
Under Ofcom rules, broadcasters are excluded from expressing views on “political and industrial controversy or current public policy”.
The watchdog said these requirements do not apply to the broadcaster’s presenters or guests but the organisation itself and people with editorial responsibility for the service.
A spokesperson for Ofcom said: “We have opened an investigation into Greatest Hits Radio relating to its ‘Face the Family’ campaign.”
The campaign comes after Jordan McSweeney refused to attend his sentencing hearing where he was jailed for a minimum term of 38 years following his conviction of the murder of Zara Aleena.
Thomas Cashman also would not face the family of nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel as he was jailed for life for her murder.
Earlier this month, Ofcom launched an investigation into GB News over similar concerns about the broadcaster’s campaign.
The media watchdog is looking at the channel’s Don’t Kill Cash petition, which says: “I call on the Government to introduce legislation to protect the status of cash as legal tender and as a widely accepted means of payment in the UK until at least 2050.”
A spokesperson for Bauer, which runs Greatest Hits Radio, said: “We are working with Ofcom to better understand the investigation into the Face the Family campaign, which ran in news bulletins in two local areas of the UK.
“The series is the latest in our tradition of local campaign journalism which helps people who feel unheard have a voice.
“We are confident in our journalism and are committed to helping Ofcom with its investigation.”
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