02/11/2015

Ofcom tackles Pirate Radio

Ofcom, the Super regular has published a report on how it has worked with Haringey Council to remove equipment used for Pirate Radio broadcasting from buildings operated by the council. 19 stations were closed in 2014.

Ofcom and Haringey estimate that this has saved the council £90,000 in enforcement and maintenance costs. Ofcom is meeting with other councils on the 3rd of November to report their findings from the Haringey cooperation and if this is rolled out across London could save councils £1m per annum.

Though Pirate radio is illegal it can form a basis for community radio, unfortunately it can cause real issues and NATS has reported 55 incidents of interference from Pirate station. There have also been complaints from emergency services and licensed commercial users.

There are schemes in place for local broadcasters to legally broadcast and Ofcom has even allowed DAB stations to be set-up using off-the-shelf hardware and open source software which means a DAB station can be set-up for around £6,000. These use Linux and efforts from OpenDigitalRadio and commercially available software defined radios.

Pirate radio has been groundbreaking in the past and it will be a shame if all Pirate radio stations disappear, but if Ofcom genuinely allow more open access using local commercial DAB multiplexes maybe it won't matter.

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