THE Ofcom ‘bulletin’ is a brilliant thing – it comes out twice a month and details what TV, radio and adverts have been moaned about by viewers and listeners. It’s a dream for any media correspondent on the nationals looking for a quick story, but everybody can see it on Ofcom’s website. The fun of it often lies in how this straight-laced document can clatter head first into the popular subjects it discusses. Like the X-Factor. There is something amusing about a body like Ofcom putting in plain text what has happened on screen, in the driest possible tone.
Below, in red, is the exact text from the bulletin released today. Now, can you guess what the complaint was all about? It is confirmed in the final sentence of this excerpt… but you should have worked it out long before then.
OFCOM BULLETIN 23/1/2012: Xtra Factor was the ITV2 companion show to the ITV1 singing contest, The X Factor. The programme was presented by Caroline Flack and Olly Murs, and included discussion of the contest’s latest developments.
In this particular broadcast, viewers were able to contact the judges of The X Factor (who were in the studio) and ask questions. A young viewer from Glasgow was connected via webcam and asked Gary Barlow a question. When he responded, Gary Barlow suddenly stopped and said:
“Hello, what’s going on here?”
The web link with the viewer was then shown again, briefly revealing that she had held up a handwritten note to camera, which said: “Download Olly‟s new single “Dance With Me Tonight”…”.
Later in the programme, the presenters had the following conversation:
Caroline Flack: “…and can I just say, how amazing were the guest performances tonight on ITV1?”
Olly Murs: “So good. Rebecca was brilliant and Rihanna, well, she‟s always good.”
Caroline Flack: “Yeah, it was good. Olly, you’ve also got a new single out – at the minute – when are you performing on the show?”
Olly Murs: “I’m performing next weekend – yeah. You know, I’m not into all this plugging. There‟s too much plugging tonight on the show – you know what I mean…”.
Caroline Flack: “Interesting…”.
Olly Murs: “It’s not my cup of tea…”.
As Olly Murs continued, crew members held two large bright green placards in shot (one behind Olly Murs and one next to Caroline Flack), both of which stated: “DANCE WITH ME TONIGHT OUT NOW”.
Caroline Flack then interrupted Olly Murs, and said, to a background of the newly- released track: “Is that your single playing as well, right now?”
Olly Murs responded: “I don’t know what you’re talking about – I genuinely don’t!”
The presenters then introduced Jedward (the twin brothers and singers, John and Edward Grimes), who ran into shot carrying one of the placards, as one of them called out: “Dance With Me Tonight – out now! … I‟m dancing tonight on the screen…”.
A crew member also briefly waved the other placard in shot. The presenters then mentioned the release of new singles by Jedward and Kelly Rowland (a judge on The X Factor), to which one of the brothers responded: “Olly, it‟s crazy, we didn’t know our single was out the same day as your single – it‟s crazy!”
Caroline Flack responded: “What a coincidence!”
Later in the interview, spoof letters from viewers were voiced, to which the Grimes brothers responded to, as ‘agony aunts’. The letters were also shown on-screen. The text of the final letter stated: “I am one of the UK‟s biggest pop stars with boyish good looks and a sensational haircut. With the music industry being so tough, I have recently gone to extreme lengths to promote my music. I’ve even been on Loose Women. Am I doing the right thing?”
The letter was signed: “Molly Burs”, and contained a PS, which stated: “I have a new single called Dance with Me Tonight – out now. Buy it please.”
The Grimes brothers responded: “That guy is totally awesome … and he‟s got the same song as you!”
Two viewers were concerned that the programme was used as a platform to promote Olly Murs‟ newly-released single.
How on earth did those two viewers get that impression!? The programme’s makers said “the scripted references to Olly’s single release towards the end of the programme were in keeping with the irreverent tone of the show”. The report said: “The Licensee described the overall effect of this material as “somewhat silly, but good natured, and not excessively promotional for the single, informing the viewers of the release of Olly’s single whilst maintaining an irreverent tone, very much in keeping with the ‘zoo’ format of The Xtra Factor.”That didn’t stop Ofcom saying broadcasting codes had been broken.
It then moved on to Camden Town’s Tulisa, of-off N-Dubz, and whether she had been unfairly promoting her perfume while on the main show…