Ofcom and its predecessor regulators have been acutely aware of the problems caused by illegal radio broadcasters (or ‘pirate radio’) for many years, and have been actively engaged in taking such broadcasters off the air throughout that time. However, Ofcom recognises that such enforcement actions by themselves will not provide a total solution to the issues involved. We therefore want to take a fresh look at the issues and consider alternative ways of tackling them.
This report outlines those issues and undertakes, for the first time, detailed research into the extent of listening to illegal stations and the reasons why people listen to them. It will be followed-up by further work later this year which will consider a wide range of options (beyond enforcement) for tackling this issue. This work is separate from, but closely aligned with, the work currently underway on the wider issues faced by the UK radio industry, as set out in Ofcom’s ‘Future of Radio’ consultation, published earlier this month. We will ensure that any conclusions and recommendations that arise from our work on illegal broadcasting will be consistent with our conclusions and recommendations on the wider future of radio.
It is important to stress that Ofcom will not be able to tackle the problem of illegal broadcasting alone, as any alternative strategies will require the support and assistance of other public and industry bodies.