‘Pirate radio station ruins our TV signal’ complain Highgate residents

Pirate radio stations are allegedly depriving Highgate residents of prime time television as illicit broadcasts interrupt weekend viewing, it has been claimed.

The radio broadcasts interfere with digital television signals in Highcroft flats, in North Hill, and severely scramble the picture, say residents.

Instead of watching the afternoon’s sporting fixtures or BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, residents claim radio broadcasts from Rude FM wipe out their TV signal.

David Graham, estate director of Highcroft flats, said: “This has happened two weekends running now, and it’s the fifth time in 18 months. People lose half their channels, including all the BBC ones.”

One affected resident is Lynne Elmer-Laird, 91, whose recent mugging shocked the Highgate community.

She said: “I have got a bad back and have had to rest in bed, especially since the robbery.

“I like to watch TV while I relax, but when the picture goes, all I can do is switch it off.”

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Rajiv Ranasinghe, 58, who lives with his 91-year-old mother, added: “It’s almost impossible to get anything. And since we’ve switched to digital, interference totally wipes out the picture rather than just breaking it up.

“Whoever it is, they are doing it at the time when most people want to watch television.”

Mr Graham linked the periods of interference with broadcasts of longstanding pirate radio station Rude FM.

He said its signal is so strong his radio picks it up even when the aerial is not extended.

Broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, said there have been three complaints against Rude FM this year.

A spokesman said: “We last investigated them in March.

“The problem is that these television interferences may not be down to pirate radio, they can be caused by anything that emits electromagnetic waves.”

A spokesman from Rude FM, which plays drum and bass music, said: “It won’t be my station doing that. It was based near Highgate years ago, but now we’re about 15 miles away.

“We’ve been on air for more than 20 years. We would be shut down by now if we were disturbing people.

“A lot of people appreciate the station. There’s a need for our music out there, it doesn’t get played anywhere else. We have got it in our blood and are going to do it no matter what.”

Ofcom can take action against pirate radio stations including removing transmitters and seizing equipment.

* Ofcom can be contacted by calling 020 7981 3040 or visiting http://consumers.ofcom.org.uk/tell-us/tv-and-radio/