BBC lets DJs plug their own record labels

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THE BBC is allowing Radio 1 DJs to broadcast records produced by companies in which they have a direct financial interest. In the past two years, Pete Tong, the leading dance music DJ, has played on his shows at least 240 tracks by 45 different artists from his own record label.

Armand Van Helden's single "You Don't Know Me" was played eight times on Tong's Radio 1 show, and after being released on his Ffrr label went to number one in the charts, selling almost 400,000 copies. Another record, Pete Heller's "Big Love", was played on 12 of Tong's shows before it was officially released on Ffrr on 4 May. It entered the charts at number 12.

Last night the Tories called for an inquiry by the BBC's governors. The Conservative culture and media spokesman, Peter Ainsworth, said it would be "a serious blow to public confidence in the BBC" if DJs were playing records on labels in which they had financial interests.

"The BBC governors should order an immediate inquiry into this question of self-promotion and establish whether guidelines have been broken. It is essential that the BBC is, and is seen to be, beyond reproach," he said.

Tong also regularly plays on his show records from companies that are owned by, or employ, his business associates. Other Radio 1 dance DJs play records released by their own label, but none is as big on the dance scene as Tong.

The BBC's producer guidelines state: "The BBC is responsible for the choice of commercially recorded music played on its programmes. The reasonable viewer or listener should not be given any reason to believe that the choice has been improperly influenced by any record company or music promoter."

Last night the BBC deniedthat the guidelines were being breached. A Radio 1 spokesman admitted that there was potential for "apparent conflicts of interest", but added: "There are clear mechanisms in place to ensure that the BBC principles of independence and fair dealing are upheld at all times."

One music industry insider said: "How could the BBC know if any DJ is improperly influenced when he is playing his own company's records? We are not talking about the odd record or two here. This is wholesale."

God of dance music, page 3