Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Less raids for pirate radio stations

Either there are less pirate radio stations around these days, or they are getting smarter by not getting caught.
Ofcom raids on ‘pirate’ radio stations have more than halved in number over the past five years, according to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act, and seen by RadioToday.
The previously unpublished data reveals that the number of operations conducted by Ofcom against illegal broadcasters fell from 927 in 2007 to 431 in 2012, with only 39 operations conducted outside London last year.
The number of successful convictions for illegal broadcasting dropped from 37 in 2007 to just seven in 2012. The average fine fell to £225, and average costs awarded down to £350. The maximum penalties that can be imposed at Crown Court are an unlimited fine and two years in prison.

However the number of complaints about interference from pirates also reduced, from 535 in 2010 to 324. Last year saw 67 complaints from licensed broadcasters, including community and RSL stations; and 256 from listeners.

According to the Ofcom data, the last occasion where a pirate endangered ‘safety of life’ was in September 2010, affecting London’s air traffic control centre in Swanwick, Hampshire.
More recently, an incident in 2012 at London City Airport was initially classified as having affected safety of life, but was subsequently downgraded. In total, 42 of last year’s incidents involved aeronautical equipment, while two affected the emergency services.

The figures highlight Ofcom’s struggle to permanently close down illegal stations. One station in London – Shine FM, broadcasting on 87.9FM - was raided 20 times in 2012.
Twelve further stations were raided ten or more times in the year: Blazin FM, déjà vu FM, House FM, Klick, Kool FM, Lightning FM, On Top FM, Origin FM, Playback, TSOL, Vibes FM and WBLS FM.
In total across the year, Ofcom’s operations included 13 raids on studios, and 148 seizures of the main illegal transmitter.

(Source: Radio Today via Garry Stevens Free Radio Board)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I suspect that RadioToday are correct in saying that there are fewer (FM) pirate stations in Britain these days. What with the rise of internet radio, and legal community stations, there has been a shift away from this type of broadcasting. Here in Bristol, which twenty years ago boasted six or seven unlicensed operators at any one time, the last regular broadcaster, Passion Radio Bristol, moved on to the internet and switched off its long standing 106.2 FM service in January 2012. They now operate openyl as an internet station, with studios at a local community centre. There are still FM pirates around, but they mostly stream audio from the web these days and are sporadic in operation.

The good news however, is that AM pirate radio seems to be as solid as ever. I am hearing more Shortwave operations than ever at my location, and with the gradual migration of legal radio services to the FM and DAB bands, mediumwave is becoming more accessible for pirate operators. It would be great if the Dutch and Greek experiences, where AM pirates are pretty much tolerated, were eventually repeated in other European countries too. Time will tell!

Finally, RadioToday is not the best source of news about free radio operations, as it always has an editorial bias against pirate operators. Their utterly boring magazine once slagged off a young man from the South East of England for running his station from a lap top rigged to a water tower. He was arrested after a member of the public thought he was setting up a bomb. In fact, his method of broadcasting was rather clever and avoided studio interception. And the arrest just underlines the paranoia that has set in since the war in Iraq.

Keep up your great blog!