Sunderland ‘pirate’ radio station team vow to press ahead with licence application

Turntables at the adress in Halstead Square
Turntables at the adress in Halstead Square
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The team behind an alleged pirate radio station in Sunderland say they are pressing ahead with plans to get a broadcasting licence.

Northumbria Police, working with Ofcom, executed a warrant at a house in Halstead Square, Pallion, last week.

Equipment found at the house in Halstead Square

Equipment found at the house in Halstead Square

A 34-year-old man is being dealt with by Ofcom for suspected offences under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006.

Related: What is pirate radio? Why stations are illegal and what the penalties are for running one

Police say the station - After Dark FM - is thought to have been used as a source of information for teenagers to organise raves - which were stopped by officers - and gatherings which have led to complaints of anti-social behaviour and disorder.

Sergeant Patrick Scott said: “This was an excellent example of partnership working with Ofcom and the local community.

it is illegal to operate an unlicensed radio station or use any equipment that may cause interference or have the potential to disrupt the communications of critical services, and we will actively pursue offenders thought to be contravening such laws.

Sgt Patrick Scott

“We will continue to try to safeguard young people in our area and prevent any disorder which has an adverse effect on local residents.

“My message to the public is clear; it is illegal to operate an unlicensed radio station or use any equipment that may cause interference or have the potential to disrupt the communications of critical services, and we will actively pursue offenders thought to be contravening such laws.”

An Ofcom spokesman said there were ways for smaller stations to run legal radio broadcasts without breaking the law: “Thanks to new technology, we can now offer smaller stations a safe, legal route to air through community radio – without interfering with others who rely on using the airwaves.”

The radio station’s Facebook page contains a statement thanking listeners for their support and urging them to sign an on-line petition to Ofcom.

Sgt Patrick Scott

Sgt Patrick Scott

“Due to certain people wanting to spoil things for the community rather than help it, we have had to temporarily go off air,” it says.

“Our licence application is in with Ofcom but whilst this was going ahead we have been reported and complained about by certain persons.

Related: Alleged pirate radio station raided by police in Sunderland

“And out of these peoples’ selfishness ...we cannot broadcast until Ofcom approves the licence.

“As it is a ‘community licence’ we’d like to ask you, the North East community to sign our petition to be passed on to Ofcom to help speed up and grant the licence and get back on air.”

The petition can be found at https://www.change.org/p/ofcom-help-secure-the-community-radio-licence-of-afterdarkfm
Peterlee firm Start Energy has sponsored the station during its licence application.

A company spokesman confirmed it would continue to do so: “They have done everything that Ofcom has asked, and we have been paying the fees for them.

“The petition has around 8,0000 signatures to get them back on the air.”