Radio 1 to pull plugs by DJs

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The Independent Online
RADIO 1 is to tighten controls on DJs who broadcast records in which they have a financial interest. The move follows an investigation by The Independent which revealed that millionaire DJ Pete Tong had played almost 250 tracks on his radio show in the past two years that were produced by a company of which he is a paid director.

In a letter to Peter Ainsworth MP, the Conservative spokesman on culture and media, the BBC Chairman Sir Christopher Bland said further safeguards were under consideration. "These include analysing all specialist programme playlists over time to examine trends of percentage play of different labels; and more active approval by the network music team before a DJ can play a track from a label he or she has a financial interest in," he wrote

Mr Ainsworth said yesterday, "I am delighted that the BBC appear to be taking action and are looking again to make their guidelines watertight."

Sir Christopher rejected the the MP's call for an inquiry into apparent breaches of guidelines, but said: "I agree that it is of paramount importance that listeners should be able to trust the integrity of our programmes."

After The Independent article, Radio 1 had discussions with Jenny Abramsky, director of radio, and Phil Harding, controller of editorial policy. It was agreed that declaring interests on air was not the best way to avoid conflicts of interest. Instead they are looking at the further safeguards.

Tong, 38, is the BBC's leading dance music DJ. He also runs Ffrr Records, a subsidiary of London Records. This year he has played as many as seven records on his three-hour Friday night show that were released by his own company.

Gus Dudgeon, who has produced Elton John and is a committee member of Re-Pro, the guild of record producers and engineers, said the BBC should ban DJs playing their own company's records: "There doesn't need to be inquiry into this. It should stop."