Page last updated at 07:07 GMT, Friday, 5 September 2008 08:07 UK

DJs criticised for drink comments

Ofcom rules ban encouraging binge drinking

Radio presenters have been criticised for promoting heavy drinking so as to be seen as "cool" by their listeners.

Researchers from the Bristol-based University of the West of England looked at 1,200 hours of output across six BBC and commercial stations.

Under 50% of all comments about alcohol encouraged drinking, but in output from just presenters the figure rose to 73%.

BBC Radio 1's Chris Moyles came in for particular criticism. The BBC said its presenters did not encourage drinking.


The study, which focused on radio programmes aimed at young people broadcast between December 2007 and February this year, criticised DJs for using terms such as "ruined" and "lashed" and found some 13% of monitored comments encouraged drinking to excess.

In total, presenters were responsible for 244 of 703 comments made on air about alcohol.

Where presenters did not encourage drinking, most were neutral, but 2% were negative, suggesting reasons to limit drinking - such as safety, work and health.

The stations studied included Radio 1, the BBC's 1Xtra, Kiss 101, Key 103, Galaxy Birmingham and Kerrang! Radio.

The alcohol references on commercial stations, particularly Kerrang! Radio, were higher in volume and more likely to encourage drinking than those on BBC stations, the report said.

"Alcohol was frequently positioned as a marker of the weekend, and a hangover as a marker of a good night out," said lead researcher Professor Norma Daykin.

"The notion of not drinking alcohol to enjoy yourself, particularly at times of celebration such as Christmas and New Year, seemed unthinkable."

But she pointed out some presenters were able to create an identity and connection with their audience without encouraging drinking.

"This suggests radio presenters and producers have a choice - they don't have to encourage drinking to be seen as 'cool' or in touch with their listeners."

Chris Moyles
The BBC said it did not agree its presenters encouraged drinking

In one radio segment noted by the report, Radio 1's breakfast show presenter Chris Moyles tried to encourage TV chef Gordon Ramsay to go for a drink.

When Mr Ramsay agreed to go for one pint, the presenter responded: "One pint [laughs]... likely.

"Why don't you let me take you out for a few beers and then one of the famous kebabs from the local kebab shop near me."

The Ofcom broadcasting code stipulates that TV and radio programmes should not "condone, encourage or glamorise" alcohol misuse before the watershed - unless there is "editorial justification".

Ben Cooper, head of programmes at BBC Radio 1 said: "We do have a responsibility to our audience, but I don't think we are getting this wrong.

"And I don't think Radio 1 DJs are encouraging a drinking culture."

He said Chris Moyles was a high-profile and "honest" broadcaster, who talked about many aspects of his life - including drinking.

But Mr Cooper said: "That doesn't equate to promoting a drinking culture."

The station has recently run a campaign on the radio and online asking listeners to think about the amount of alcohol they drink and how it could affect health, looks and behaviour.


A spokeswoman for Kerrang! Radio said: "As a sensible broadcaster Kerrang! Radio works hand-in-hand with Ofcom to ensure that it operates within broadcasting regulations.

"Kerrang! Radio has never been found to be in breach of the broadcast rules surrounding alcohol consumption."

Public health minister Dawn Primarolo said: "It's disappointing that so many of our radio stations glorify being drunk.

"I'd urge DJs to come up with more creative ways of engaging with their listeners."

The research, which was funded by the Department of Health and Home Office, is to be presented to the British Sociological Association in Brighton.

Alcohol health warnings by 2008
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