Page last updated at 12:30 GMT, Monday, 8 December 2008

Talksport hit with £20,000 fine

James Whale (pic: Talksport)
James Whale had been with Talksport since it launched as Talk Radio in 1995

Talksport has been fined £20,000 by media regulator Ofcom after broadcaster James Whale breached impartiality rules during the London mayoral elections.

Whale was sacked from the radio station in May, two months after he urged listeners to vote for the eventual winner of the poll, Boris Johnson.

Under Ofcom rules, presenters are banned from showing any bias towards a political party before an election.

The station must also broadcast a statement of Ofcom's findings.

Ofcom received three complaints over the comments Whale made on the show.

Whale criticised the then mayor Ken Livingstone by saying he "has been nothing but a complete and utter tragedy for the capital city".

'Considerable harm'

He then encouraged listeners to vote for Boris Johnson - the Conservative candidate - in the 2008 London mayoral elections.

He said that people would have a better quality of life under Boris Johnson's leadership and that they would not be "ripped off nearly as much, if at all".

The regulator said it found the breach "had the potential to cause considerable harm to the democratic process" by conferring an unfair electoral advantage on a particular candidate.

"Alternative views about the London mayoral candidacy and Ken Livingstone's record as London mayor were not represented in the programme so as even to attempt to achieve due impartiality," Ofcom said.

"The presenter's comments were not simply a 'vote for…' comment, but amounted to a direct political message to his listeners. This effectively resulted in the programme becoming a platform in support of Boris Johnson and critical of Ken Livingstone," it added.

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