Citizens' Radio interfering with aircraft, watchdog says

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 September, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 September, 2008, 12:00am

The telecommunications watchdog has warned outlawed Citizens' Radio to cease using its transmitter following a complaint from the Civil Aviation Department about interference to air-ground communication channels last month.

But the founder of the rebel broadcaster, Tsang Kin-shing, last night said they had been broadcasting with the same equipment since May and condemned the warning as political suppression ahead of the Legislative Council election. Mr Tsang is a candidate on Hong Kong Island constituency.

The Office of the Telecommunications Authority (Ofta) said it received a complaint on Wednesday last week about interference to civil aviation services from a signal.

A sound recording was provided by the Civil Aviation Department on Tuesday, which found that the source of interference originated from Citizens' Radio, Ofta said.

'As the interference may pose a potential hazard to aircraft operation, the authority therefore issued a notice to Citizens' Radio to direct it to immediately cease its use of the radio transmitter,' a spokesman said. 'Ofta will take enforcement action as appropriate if Citizens' Radio fails to comply with the notice.'

Love Ark, a one-hour programme hosted by several gay youngsters, was broadcast at 7pm last Wednesday. But Mr Tsang said one-hour broadcasts had been resumed five days a week on FM102.8 since May.

'Why do they accuse us of interference on that day if we are running our programmes from Monday to Friday? Why does this notice come right before the election?' he said.

He said political suppression from the government was expected before the poll and vowed to continue running a 15-hour live programme, featuring the Legco election, on Sunday.

Ho Wing-leung, president of the Hong Kong Amateur Radio Association, said frequency interference was possible if equipment did not meet standards. The spot where the radio transmitter was placed would also affect the level of interference, he said. 'It would be rare, however, for the transmitter to suddenly create interference if the settings remained the same,' Mr Ho said.