Hundreds of illegal radio stations busted in China

Most operated in homes and many were involved in scams or selling fake medicines, according to state media

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 June, 2016, 3:40pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 June, 2016, 3:40pm

Police in northeast China busted over 300 illegal radio stations for hawking fake medicines, promoting scams or threatening aviation safety through their transmissions, state media reported.

The authorities in Shenyang in Liaoning province uncovered 66 underground radio stations from January to April, adding to the 225 busted last year, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

“It was like harvesting garlic chives. A new batch would always spring up soon after you cut the previous batch,” Liu Weidong, director of Shenyang’s wireless regulator, was quoted as saying.

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The radio stations had not obtained permission to operate from the municipal radio and television authorities or wireless regulator and were mostly set up in homes, the report said.

A set of radio broadcasting equipment cost about 20,000 yuan (HK$24,000) two years ago when illegal stations were still a novelty, but can now be ordered online for a few thousand yuan and delivered in a few days.

The money can quickly be earned back through illegal businesses promoted on the radio, according to the article.

The majority of the illegal radio stations in Shenyang were used to promote illegal medicines, with treatments for venereal diseases accounting for over 80 per cent of their business.

Some low-quality medicines costing less than 20 yuan were sold for more than 1,000 yuan by the stations, the report said.

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People who operated the illegal radio stations could get a commission on top of their basic salaries selling the drugs, providing an attractive income in a province where traditional industries are struggling and economic growth is among the slowest in the country.

In one example of stations hindering aviation, the landings of four flights at Dalian airport in Liaoning were disrupted during one night by illegal radio signals, the report said.

Illegal radio stations can be fined a maximum of 5,000 yuan, according to regulations on wireless communication.