HL Deb 22 March 1984 vol 449 c1465WA
Lord Mulley

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why they have taken no effective action to stop illegal broadcasts by "pirate" radio stations at the cost of and to the detriment of independent local radio companies who are subject to statutory and other regulations to maintain standards and to pay levies; and what measures are under consideration to protect legitimate broadcasters.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Cockfield)

In 1983 action against pirate radio stations resulted in illegal transmitters being traced on 97 occasions (on 61 occasions the transmitter was unmanned) and 40 people being prosecuted for offences under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949. At present the effectiveness of the action taken is limited by the lack of powers to seize a station's equipment pending prosecution. However, the Government hope that the new powers being sought in the Telecommunications Bill to enable the seizure of apparatus for legal proceedings will prove an effective weapon against pirate broadcasters. Direct action against the offshore pirate stations is more difficult as they are broadcasting from vessels anchored in international waters. As such the United Kingdom has no jurisdiction which would enable the vessels to be boarded and an end to be put to the broadcasts. The Government must rely on taking action against anybody in this country who supplies the ships or otherwise supports the stations in contravention of the Marine, Etc., Broadcasting (Offences) Act 1967.

The Government intend to continue to give action against pirate radio stations a high degree of priority. Officials held a meeting recently with representatives of the broadcasting organisations at which additional action that might be taken to make an impact on the problem was identified. Consideration is to be given to the question of seeking injunctions against offenders, and action is planned to deter those advertising on pirate radio stations.