|Twilight raids on pirate radio|
Ofcom, police and London Boroughs take action against illegal broadcasting
Ofcom’s team carried out enforcement action against over 20 illegal broadcasters
make three arrests and send over 20 letters sent to local night clubs.
Working in partnership with the London Boroughs of Hackney, Haringey, Tower Hamlets and Islington, as well as the Metropolitan Police, Ofcom’s team carried out enforcement action against over 20 illegal broadcasters in these areas.
Illegal broadcasters can cause interference to safety-of-life services, such as the fire brigade and air traffic control, as well as licensed broadcasters, denying listeners their choice of music and news. Illegal stations cause significant damage to rooftops, resulting in expensive repair bills at public expense.
Ofcom’s operation ran from 6 to 16 February and resulted in three arrests, one studio raid, the removal of 22 illegal broadcasters’ transmitters and over 20 letters sent to local night clubs that have advertised events on illegal radio stations.
Ofcom estimates that there are over 150 illegal stations operating in the UK, with half of those broadcasting across London and the South East. There are over thirty illegal stations across these four boroughs, making up 60% of all illegal broadcasters in North London.
Ofcom is responsible for keeping radio spectrum free from interference, taking illegal stations off the air by raiding studios and seizing and disconnecting transmitters and aerials. Last year, Ofcom carried out over 900 such operations and 37 people were convicted of offences related to illegal broadcasting.
Robert Thelen-Bartholomew, Director of Field Operations, said: "Illegal broadcasters can cause serious interference to safety-of-life services such as the fire brigade and air traffic control, as well as legitimate radio stations. Ofcom takes swift and firm action to remove these illegal stations from the air. We work closely with local authorities to ensure that this problem is tackled at source for the benefit of the community."
Councillor Terry Stacy, Islington Council's Executive Member for Housing and Communities, said: "Pirate radio stations are a menace and we are pleased to support this crackdown.
He added, “Islington Council is determined to stop illegal radio stations. Illegal broadcasters can put lives at risk by interfering with vital emergency equipment, damage council property and make the lives of our residents hell. Sometimes these stations are linked to drug-dealing and serious crime, which we will not tolerate.”
Councillor Nilgun Canver, Haringey’s cabinet member for enforcement and safer communities, said:
“Pirate radio installations seriously damage our properties when they break locks and doors into stairwells to access the roofs of council flats from where they broadcast. We fully support this campaign to stop pirate radio and our enforcement team is keen to continue working with Ofcom to sort out this problem.”
London Borough of Tower Hamlets Pirate Radio Project Manager, Claire Demmel said, "In recent months Tower Hamlets Council and its partners have taken stringent security steps to prevent illegal broadcasters from gaining access to our roof tops. Joint operations such as this can only reinforce the message that we take radio piracy seriously.”
The illegal broadcasters targeted by the Ofcom operation include
Enforcement activity conducted:
George Lansbury House
Millennium Supreme 99.8FM
Unidentified Station 102.6FM
Operation Twilight has resulted in one studio being raided during the period 6-16 February, and equipment seized, eighteen transmitters being seized or disconnected and four aerial installations removed by Ofcom personnel. In addition a total of twenty one warnings have been given to advertisers on illegal broadcasters, including a number of night clubs, who have been hosting events promoted by pirate radio stations and four phones being used either as studio phones, or to publicise illegal events have been disconnected. Three people have been arrested in connection with the operation.
Twenty illegal broadcasters have suffered enforcement action during this operation.
Warning to Clubs & Advertisers
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