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OfCom declines to take action against Capital Xtra following DJ Tiiny payola scandal

By | Published on Tuesday 13 April 2021

DJ Tiiny

OfCom has announced that it will not take action against Capital Xtra, after one of its presenters, DJ Tiiny, solicited payments from artists in exchange for airplay.

In its ruling, the UK media regulator said that while Tiiny’s actions where a clear breach of its rules, Capital Xtra’s response had been swift and firm enough to avoid further action. The station could have been fined or lost its licence. However, OfCom said that it “recognises that broadcasters can only minimise the risk of an employee or agent forming with a third party a commercial arrangement that may influence the selection or rotation of music for broadcast”.

The payola allegations against Tiiny emerged in January after producer J Beatz posted to Twitter a screengrab of an email he had received from the DJ. In it, Tiiny – who is Stormzy’s tour DJ – offered to premiere a track on his radio show and playlist it for two subsequent weeks, in exchange for £200.

In its submission to OfCom, Capital owner Global said that it had confronted Tiiny the day after the tweet from J Beatz and that he had admitted his wrongdoing. At that point, his employment contract was terminated, his show was removed from the station’s schedule, and all references to him were removed from its website.

Although Capital itself did not make any statement on the matter, three days later Tiiny issued his own, saying: “Over the last couple of days I have learnt a much needed lesson. I was given an incredible opportunity within radio [but] carelessly and irresponsibly took advantage of my position. I take full responsibility for my actions and fully accept the consequences as a result”.

Global told the regulator that it had “invited [the presenter] to make separate representations for submission to OfCom”, but “he [had] declined to engage with [it] on this matter further”.

It added that Tiiny had “received compliance training during his time at Capital Xtra which reinforced the importance of a presenter’s obligations under” OfCom rules.

“Seeking payments to influence music selection is culturally understood by those working at Global to be completely unacceptable, and this incident [had] shocked its staff”, it added, saying that it had “never encountered this type of behaviour from a presenter in its history, and this departure from this most basic standard [was] deeply disappointing”.

DJ Tiiny has offered no further statement on the matter following OfCom’s ruling.