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September 29, 2005

Ofcom accused of interfering in Radio Ramadan broadcasts

Local Ramadan radio stations begin their annual broadcasts across Britain next week amid fears of being charged with breaching a new code of standards introduced by the communications regulator, Ofcom, in July, reports Friday’s issue of The Muslim News exclusively.

Applicants for a record 82 Restrictive Service Licences (RSL’s) have expressed concern about undue interference by the regulator. “Ofcom has stated that they would like to work with radio Ramadans about the contents of the programmes,” one applicant told The Muslim News. Another described the interference as “religious discrimination,” saying Ofcom had “set of rules for Muslims and another for the rest.”

Particular concern relates to Clause 2.4 of the ‘harm and offence’ section of the code, which states : “Programmes must not include material (whether in individual programmes or in programmes taken together) which, taking into account the context, condones or glamorises violent, dangerous or seriously antisocial behaviour and is likely to encourage others to copy such behaviour.”

In the current climate, fears were expressed about the definition of “seriously antisocial behaviour.”

First time RSL applicant Mohammed Anwar, who will be in charge of Nelson’s APNY Nawaz station, said that like many others, it would also be difficult to assess what Ofcom described as the “context” in separating the inflammatory from the merely controversial views. “We’ve briefed our staff to scan the callers in phone-ins. For example, they’ve been told to cut of anybody who promotes terrorism,” Anwar told The Muslim News. But he said it was “really a grey matter though, when you take into account what Cherie Blair said about suicide bombers. It’s OK for her to express a legitimate view but it’s another thing for a Muslim to attempt to do the same.” He also referred to Conservative Leader, Michael Howard, saying that “talking about immigration doesn’t make you a racist” and argued that “talking about terrorism doesn’t make you a terrorist.”

For further information contact us on 020 8863 8586 or 077 68 241 325. Please acknowledge The Muslim News when using the press release

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