Ruling

00014-18 Temple v Witney Gazette

    • Date complaint received

      19th April 2018

    • Outcome

      No breach - after investigation

    • Code provisions

      1 Accuracy

Decision of the Complaints Committee 00014-18 Temple v Witney Gazette

Summary of complaint

1. Dean Temple complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Witney Gazette breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined, “Parties unite for music festival ’18,” published on 27 December 2017.

2. The article reported that the Witney Music Festival was planning to expand its 2018 event. It reported that in the run-up to the 2017 event, the town council had introduced “a range of new restrictions” and had issued a statement confirming changes the town council had made to the timings of the event. The article stated that in 2016 the funfair ran until 11pm and the after party until 1am, but that in 2017 the council said the funfair must finish at 10pm, live music must finish at 11pm and the whole site must be vacated by 12.30am. It also included quotations from the organiser of the music festival, who was quoted as saying the 2017 had had its challenges, but that they were hoping the 2018 event would be “bigger and better than ever before with the strong involvement of Witney Town Council.”

3. The article also appeared online headlined, “Witney Music Festival to be ‘bigger and better when it returns this summer” which was published on 2 January 2018. The online article was substantially the same as the print article.

4. The complainant was a member of Witney Town Council. He said that it was inaccurate for the article to state that the town council had introduced a range of new restrictions and that it had made changes to the timings of the music festival. He said that in both 2016 and 2017 the event organiser had agreed with the town council that the event would finish at 11pm and had been granted the use of the land by the town council on this basis. The complainant said that the town council had not introduced any new restrictions or timings on the main event, but had only asked that the funfair cease at 10pm, which had also been agreed in 2016 but had not been adhered to.

5. He said that the after party referred to was a separate event. He accepted that in 2016 there had been an after party, but said the organisers had not made the town council aware of it and this had not been agreed with the council beforehand. In 2017, the council had become aware that the organisers were advertising an after show party until 2am and had then held a town meeting and agreed that this event could run until 12.30am. He said this was a compromise agreed with the organisers and did not constitute “changing the times” as reported in the article, as the town council had not granted permission for the event to run until 2am in the first place.

6. The newspaper did not accept that it had breached the Editors’ Code. It provided a copy of the press release from the town council which stated that in response to enquiries from the public, the council had agreed the timings outlined in the article. It also provided a copy of the minutes of the town council meeting, which it said supported the newspaper’s position that as no representatives of the event were present, it was accurate to say the timing restrictions were introduced by the town council, rather than agreed with the organisers.

7. The newspaper said that the town council was not the licencing authority, and so would not ordinarily grant permission with regards to timings. It said that in 2016 the organisers had been granted a temporary events notice by the licencing authority allowing the event to run until 2am. In 2017, when the town council became aware that an after party was being advertised, it had held a town meeting to discuss the organiser’s plans. The minutes of the meeting showed that the festival wanted the fair to run until 11.30pm and the after party to finish at 2am. The minutes also recorded that the council members had approved a proposal allowing the after party to run until midnight, but limited to 300 people, rather than the 500 advertised and the fair must finish by 10pm. The newspaper said this was the basis for the article’s claim that a number of new restrictions had been introduced.

Relevant Code provisions

Clause 1 (Accuracy)

i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text.

ii) A Significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and- where appropriate- an apology published. In cases involving IPSO, due prominence should be as required by the regulator.

Findings of the Committee

8. The minutes of the town council meeting showed that in 2017 it had agreed a proposal that limited the number of tickets that could be sold for the after party event, the time the after party had to finish, and the time the funfair was to stop. Where the organisers had proposed a later finish time for both the funfair and the after party, and had planned to sell considerably more tickets for the after party, it was accurate for the article to state that the introduction of these measures constituted a “range of restrictions” and that they had been introduced by the town council. There was no breach of Clause 1 on this point.

9. The article had provided three examples of changes to timing to the 2017 event that had been published in the council’s statement. It said that the funfair was required to finish at 10pm, live music must finish by 11pm and the whole site vacated by 12.30am. Where the original proposal had not stated that the funfair was required to stop by 10pm and did not make a requirement for live music to cease at 11pm, it was accurate for the newspaper to categorise these as changes to the timings. Also, where the newspaper did not state that the previously advertised 2am finish had been approved by the council, but made clear that this reference to a time change related to the difference between the timings the organisers had proposed to the council for the after party, and the timings included in the statement issued by the town council, reporting this was not inaccurate. There was no breach of Clause 1.

Conclusions

10. The complaint was not upheld.

Remedial Action required

11. N/A

Date complaint received: 29/12/2017

Date decision issued: 29/03/2018