Total Star in power breach

Total Star in Bridgwater has had another breach recorded against its licence by Ofcom, after putting out too strong a signal from its transmitter.

The Somerset station was found to be broadcasting at 30kW, when the terms of its licence only allow a maximum of 4kW.

Ofcom says it was the most serious example of an unauthorised increase in transmitter power they've ever recorded.

The broadcast regulator had received a number of complaints between October and December about the signal coming from Total Star's Minehead transmitter, based at North Hill. Complainants said the signal was reaching geographical areas for which the station isn't licence. An Ofcom engineer visited the site on 2 December and found that the Total Star transmitter was putting out over 30kW vertically polarised (it's only allowed 2kW vertical and 2kW horizontal). They also found that the signal was bleeding into adjacent channels on the FM band in excess of 110kHz (maximum permitted is 75kHz) – and that a new transmitter and antenna that had been replaced without Ofcom consultation could be adjusted from the front panel, despite the regulator's Technical Code stating that physical protection of adjustments is required.

In its response to Ofcom, Total Star's owners One Gold Radio Ltd didn't challenge the premise of the alleged breaches, accepting that its engineer "…. was clearly not fully aware of the requirements to
Ofcom when he installed the new transmitter." However, it also noted that on 2 December,
"… when Ofcom attended the site our engineer was still there and in the process of installing
the equipment, so it seems rather unfair to consider the equipment had settings at the
correct levels immediately."

Ofcom decided that One Gold Radio Ltd was in breach of its licence between the start of October and 2 December 2010 – both for the specific technical parameters of the transmitter site being broken and for failing to adhere to the Technical Code.

A spokesman said: "This case is the most serious example of an unauthorised increase in transmitter power ever recorded by Ofcom. The extent to which the unauthorised replacement transmitter
exceeded the technical parameters is greater than in any other case Ofcom has dealt with. As a result of the seriousness, and the unauthorised increase in transmitter power in particular, the Licensee is put on notice that the breaches of its licence as set out in this finding are being considered by Ofcom for the imposition of a statutory sanction."

This is the fourth licence breach for the Total Star branded stations in recent months – previous Ofcom reports on the station include for its [link=]news output[/link] and [link=]twice[/link] for [link=]promoting products[/link] in programming.

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