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.
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