Chiltern FM fined for missing tapes

Failure to produce programme tapes for inspection by the Radio Authority has landed 97.6 Chiltern FM with a £5,000 fine, the watchdog disclosed this week.

The station, owned by GWR, was fined under Section 110 of the Broadcasting Act, and was also ordered to pay dubbing and carriage costs of £226.92.

The Luton and Dunstable-based station was the subject of one complaint from a listener who alleged it had breached undue prominence rules during broadcasts concerning the fire fighters’ dispute.

The authority was unable to rule on the complaint because Chiltern FM was unable to supply tapes of the programmes in question, aired on 14 and 15 November 2002.

The Radio Authority stipulates that stations must retain tapes of all broadcast output for a period of 42 days, and make them available to the regulator on request.

In its ruling, the watchdog said it was “disappointed” that a major radio company was unable to demonstrate its innocence in the face of such a serious allegation.

After imposing the penalty, Radio Authority chairman Richard Hooper said the retention of tapes for the specified period was of crucial importance “in the present regulatory regime, and will be even more important given [forthcoming umbrella media watchdog] Ofcom’s stated wish to encourage more co-regulation.”

By Wale Azeez

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