11 June 2001

Radio Authority fines Sunrise Radio £10,000

Sunrise Radio, London’s Asian news and entertainment station, has been fined £10,000 by the Radio Authority for a breach of the Broadcasting Act 1990. The breach concerned an interview given by the owner of Sunrise Radio, Dr. Avtar Lit, in advance of his proposed candidacy in the General Election. Such expressions of opinion on politically controversial matters by providers of Independent Local Radio services are specifically prohibited by law.

On 20 March, Sunrise Radio twice carried extracts from an interview with Dr. Lit. One concerned Dr. Lit's views about the political dissatisfaction of people living in Ealing, Southall, and the other outlined his policy proposals for this constituency. Members decided at their meeting on 6 June that the interview breached Section 90(2)(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1990.

Richard Hooper, Chair of the Authority, said:

"Those who hold radio licences should be in no doubt that they may not use that privileged position to publicise their own views on political matters. The Broadcasting Act and our Codes make it clear that this applies at all times, not just during elections."

When making this decision, Members took into account Sunrise Radio's admission of error and the absence of further breaches. However, they also voiced concern about the implication of this breach for compliance issues at Sunrise Radio. The Authority has therefore asked Sunrise Radio for assurances that suitable action will be undertaken to ensure future compliance with the Broadcasting Act and its Codes.



  1. The Broadcasting Act 1990 (Section 90(2)(b)) requires "that… there are excluded from … programmes all expressions of the views and opinions of the person providing the service on matters (other than sound broadcasting) which are of political or industrial controversy or relate to current public policy."
  1. If a commercial radio station is found to be in breach of its licence, the Radio Authority can impose a number of sanctions. It can require a broadcast apology or correction, issue a formal warning, or impose a penalty which can include a fine or the shortening or revocation of a licence.
  2. Financial penalties are not kept by the Radio Authority but are passed to the Treasury's Consolidated Funds.
  3. The Radio Authority is responsible for licensing and regulating Independent Radio in accordance with the statutory requirements of the Broadcasting Acts 1990 and 1996. It plans frequencies, awards licences, regulates programming and advertising, and plays an active role in the discussion and formulation of policies which affect the Independent Radio industry and its listeners.


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