Charity broadcaster is silenced by court

Charity broadcaster is silenced by court

Charity broadcaster is silenced by court

First published in News
Last updated
Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A CANCER survivor who set up an unlicensed radio station to raise awareness of the condition has been fined and had his equipment confiscated.

Brian Barfoot, 69, set up Monster FM, in 2010, to promote cancer charities and play music patients would find relaxing.

However, he didn’t apply to for a licence.

Ofcom found out about the pirate station earlier this year and raided the station’s studio at Russell Court, in Wickford Barfoot was arrested and he admitted running and establishing an unlicensed radio station when he appeared at Basildon Magistrates’ Court.

William Chipperfield, prosecuting, told the court Ofcom tracked the source of illegal radio transmissions to Monster FM’s studios in Wickford.

Police raided a rented unit and found Mr Barfoot’s wife Susan with transmitting equipment.

She called her husband who suspended broadcasting, drove to the site and gave himself up.

Mr Chipperfield read a prepared statement from Ofcom, which said it was important broadcasting was monitored so pirate stations do not interfere with emergency service frequencies, or aircraft transmitters.

He said there is no evidence Monster FM had interfered with any other broadcasting.

Ofcom estimated the station made about £800 per month from fees charged to DJs to broadcast shows.

Barfoot, who represented himself, said: “Seven years ago I was diagnosed with cancer and given a year to live.

“I was one of the fortunate ones, I survived.

“I set up the radio station as a way of raising awareness, we broadcast adverts for cancer charities and support groups.

“The music was aimed at an older generation.

“We had a DJ who came in a couple of times, but everything else was pre-recorded and submitted to us.We knew there was no swearing or nasty stuff on there.

“The money we earnt was for our pension pot.”

Barfoot was fined £250 and ordered to pay £730 costs.

The court ordered his broadcasting equipment to be destroyed.

Speaking after the hearing, Barfoot, of St David’s Way, Wickford, said the £7,000 licence fee Ofcom charges means smaller radio stations cannot survive.

He said: “The paperwork you have to fill out is more than 67 pages long.

“There is no other radio station out there that specifically helps raise awareness of cancer.

“Ofcom was very heavy handed.

“We wanted to sell the equipment for our pension fund, but now they are going to destroy it. It is worth thousands of pounds.”

An Ofcom spokesperson: “Pirate radio stations can cause serious interference to emergency services frequencies, such as fire and police services, as well as air traffic control. They can also disrupt legitimate radio stations. Therefore, it’s important that Ofcom takes action to remove these illegal stations from the airwaves.

“An affordable way to set-up a radio station without breaking the law or causing interference is by applying for a community radio licence. There are now over 200 community radio stations broadcasting across the UK.” 

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