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Ofcom cracks down on pirates

Ofcom have called for a renewed crackdown on illegal broadcasters and pirate radio stations claiming that their signals can risk lives by interfering with emergency service frequencies and block legitimate stations.

According to Ofcom figures, there are more than 150 pirate radio stations operating across the UK, half of which operate in London and the South East of England.

Talking to the BBC, Ofcom's head of investigations, Paul Mercer said: "Ofcom receive complaints from the emergency services. The services that are most affected are the National Air Traffic services and the London Fire Brigade. In both instances, because of the proximity of the frequencies used by those services and the illegal broadcasters, they can suffer some difficulties when trying to use their radio systems to communicate."

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has provided money for the Community Radio Fund, managed by Ofcom, which so far has awarded £215,900 to 15 applicants.

But one pirate said that it was difficult to win a community radio station licence: "We tried to get a community based licence, but once we looked into it, they wanted us to show that we had £25,000 in sponsorship to prove that we could establish the business for a length of time, which is far more than we would actually need. Even to apply costs money and Ofcom can still say no, so it's just not worth the effort."

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