Sixty-one people were prosecuted for illegally broadcasting in the UK during the 2006/7 financial year, according to Ofcom's latest figures. One of those got off the charges, with the rest copping fines of about £7,000 between them plus £21,000 in costs. Six convictions for dodgy CE marking brought in another £11,500 in fines, …
The fact that there are still so many Unlicensed stations shows that government legislation, is still way behind modern day broadcasting requirements. Historically since 1969 people have been broadcasting music that they want to hear, from land based secret locations. Its about time in 2008 that OFCOM woke up and started offering affordable licences for small organisations that want to provide a service for their target audience, the current schemes for Analogue and Digital radio, only allow organisations with deep pockets to play at radio.
Local Radio Stations, that cover small areas often become automated or are run by volunteers, to remain on air due the expense of staff and licenses and lack of advertising revenue.
As long as it cost thousands ( sometimes millions) of pounds a year to bid in auctions for local radio licences.. pirates will remain, regardless of OFCOM or police action.
With Dab slowly loosing its broadcasters. Populating the bad with birdsong and various dross automated broadcasting. Local radio still is not available for those who want to broadcast but only have a minimal budget.
Chaining transmitters to railings on high buildings isnt working for local radio.. what will it take for the authorities to realise.. a more open system is needed.
Some enterprising sole will sell DAB multiplex kits. You can probably do it already for about £4000 using a PCI card in PC as a modulator.
You can also get smartphones to connect to shoutcasts from the internet. It does require a little knowhow to get it working on my N95 but usable. I had it working connected to my car once for a laugh. PCs only need a winamp/xmms install to tune in and is under the radar from Ofcom. Could this be the future of the radio pirate?
10-4 Bad buddy
I thought the stats were interesting. One CBer got a 50 squid fine and one Radio Amateur got a warning letter. OFCOM estimate that there are around 11,000 CBers left swaring in their silver rods and 60,000 radio hams in the UK, now with those figures I would have expected more slaps on the wrists for the hams, looks like the self-policing may be working despite access to the ham bands being relatively easy now.
(I am biased of course, I've held an amateur radio licence since 1991 when we had to sit a proper exam)
The exams are proper now, you read a question, tick the obvious answer....
Just like school.
To be fair, the simple route into foundation is good, just emphasis the importance of not tweaking power up. Not sure how tough int. or full is, but I'm guessing they could benefit from weeding the weak out a little more.
All very well and good, but how many pirate radio stations have the license to broadcast the music? That's where the biggest problem lies. Okay, a lot probably only do free stuff, but still...
However, the idea should still work well if it was made clear that Ofcom fully supported RIAA BMA whoever, when it came to suing for illegal broadcast.
There is still lots of free to air good stuff, and a fantastic chance for new bands to get a look in with real music.
Some missed points really...
As someone who has working in RSL and Community radio (From a technical and management standpoint) i feel the need to point out that the OFCOM broadcast licence does not make up the bulk of the cost - It's the licences required from PPL, PRS and MCPS which really hit you hard.
If pirates had more sense and used properly setup kit (the arguement about it interfereing with emergency services really is comeplete nonsense - if you are able to pick it up at all then its working), there is quite a lot of space in the spectrum (on relatively low power) to get themselves in place.
It's the unstable carrier generators and other things which cause problems - such as wide band of the spectrum being chunked out for what only requires a 0.2Mhz seperation to be valid.
Ofcom are generally good sports, money is not an excuse for pirate stations - there are too many successful Community and RSL stations springing up now for that excuse to fly.
Pirates lose equipment and are skint
Pirate radio stations are always short of cash and build stuff on a budget. That's sort of the point. They often have their gear confiscated by authorities or stolen by other operators. It would make no sense to spend too much on it. If the pirates stopped fighting each other and invested in some better gear and got some smarter technologists involved then they would do better. The great thing about FM is that it's so easy to do and for people to tune into. Compare that with online streaming with all it's different protocols and compatibilities.
What could emerge is a standard streaming, say shoutcast, that plays just on TCP/IP and does not need a Windows compatible client. A simple daemon that could be integrated into any device with WiFi and a headphone jack.Then a domain suffix that all radio stations would hook up with. Sort of like a global radio dial.
It would be a simple matter to pick up this stream with WiFi and rebroadcast over FM.