Community radio station fined £10,000 by Ofcom

Ofcom has imposed a £10,000 financial penalty on Radio Ikhlas Limited, after material broadcast on its community radio station broke the rules.

Ofcom’s investigation found that during a current affairs ‘phone-in’ programme on Radio Ikhlas, the presenter made several statements which it considered were abusive and derogatory to the Ahmadiyya community.

The regulator concluded it was a serious breach of the Broadcasting Code, which warranted the imposition of statutory sanctions. These include a financial penalty and a direction to the broadcaster to air a statement of Ofcom’s findings on a date – and in a form – to be determined by Ofcom.

The two-hour phone-in programme in question was aired on 7 September 2017 at 15:00, discussing the on-going crisis surrounding the treatment of the Rohingya Muslim community in Myanmar.

The station said the presenter in question did not show up for his designated time of broadcasting between 12:00 and 13:00, nor did he notify anybody connected with the station that he would be broadcasting a show later. The station manager was on bereavement leave on that day, but there was a staff member present in the studio until 13:00 and usually during the afternoon, pre-recorded content is broadcast and the Licensee therefore did not consider that the output needed to be monitored.

However, the presenter turned up at 15:00, and using his own keys to enter the studio he broadcast his programme without notifying any members of staff and without any supervision.

In the middle of the programme, at around 15:50, there was a 21-minute segment, during which the presenter discussed the beliefs of the Ahmadiyya community in offensive and pejorative

For example, the presenter referred to Ahmadi people as: “dangerous”; “liars”; “enemies of Islam, enemies of Pakistan, and enemies of our religion”; and, “hypocrites who frequently engage in propaganda to defame Muslims”.

The presenter also referred to the founder of the Ahmadi faith as being “a liar” and described the religious beliefs of Ahmadi people as “very dangerous beliefs”. In the course of the broadcast, the presenter said: “we will have to identify them with[in] our ranks” and “protect yourself from them”.

The Licensee confirmed that it had ended the presenter’s association with the station following internal disciplinary procedures because the presenter had breached the Code and had not adhered the Licensee’s internal training and procedures.

Ofcom says the fine of £10,000 takes into account the seriousness of this breach, while recognising the steps the station has taken to ensure future compliance with our rules, and the station’s resources. The fine will be paid by Radio Ikhlas Limited to HM Paymaster General.

Radio Ikhlas is a community radio station broadcasting to the Asian – primarily Pakistani – community in the Normanton area of Derby.

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  1. PC in Spain says

    Welcome to the real world Guys, hopefully your contract with your volunteers will hold them liable for the fine, something on the lines of “you use the words, you are responsible should they be the wrong words” would suit.
    And this may be a serious warning to everybody else.

  2. Joe Smith says

    A well deserved fine but it’s easy for Ofcom to take action against a little community station rather than one of the bigger boys isn’t it?

  3. Mark Levy says

    There’s very little commitment with Community Radio. It should be a tight ship and run as smoothly as local or regional radio. No consistency.

  4. Lee says

    Yet another fine for a small radio station, and the big radio groups just get away with it when they break the rules. Double standards?

    1. Mike Rose says

      No big group would have got away with it. If the same thing had happened on LBC, the same fine, or a bigger one, would have been imposed…as per the Steve Allen investigation at the moment, outcome pending…although it’s on a different scale. The reason for so many community outlets being in trouble is that, with exceptions, they’re not experienced to deal with the broadcasting code….one reason why community radio was a bad idea from the word go….quite aside from the nonsence which comes out of the speaker and clutters the spectrum.

      1. Joe Smith says

        LBC and Allen have been getting away with it for years and will continue to do so with Ofcom.

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