English pirate radio stations see end on horizon

Jun 22, 2015 10:32 pm
Louise Callaghan in Europe Newsweek reports about the state of pirate radio in Britian. He claims there are about 100 stations in the UK, with declining numbers across Europe except in the Eastern Netherlands. He also writes that internet radio and other digital avenues have distracted would-be pirates from the airwaves, causing the decline in numbers. Now England is on the verge of abandoning the current FM frequencies in a digital transition that would likely kill off most pirate radio. Ofcom, the UK's version of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, reported in 2014 that 48 percent of radio listeners had a digital radio in their household, so that change will come soon. Ministers earlier have said the tipping point of at least 50 percent digital radio penetration in England was necessary before converting to all digital broadcasting. In 2014 Ofcom, "conducted 154 operations against 69 pirate stations. It also responded to 318 complaints about pirate radio, of which 100 were from licensed stakeholders, such as legitimate stations, in London. In 48 cases, they claim, the signal from pirate stations interfered with critical services such as ambulances and fire engines. The fervent illegal radio activity around the council estates of east London, Ofcom says, came close to shutting down City airport last year," according to the story. Ahhh, just like with the FCC in the U.S., the hue and cry about pirate radio is that using FM frequencies -- the same ones used by legal stations -- would bring down airplanes. "Alfie," an unemployed pirate running Rage FM says his station does not effect emergency services. "It's just not true.... I can confidently say we've never interfered with anyone. Our rig has been tested by a qualified BBC engineer. Emergency services are on a digital frequency. Ofcom just say that we interfere because they don't want anyone on the airwaves unless they've approved them and can make money off them." Read the full story in Europe Newsweek.
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