Wollongong pirate radio operator off air and fined $1500

In a Wollongong local court last week, Magistrate M Stoddart fined Dan Morris $1500 and ordered that his FM broadcast equipment be confiscated, after Morris pleaded guilty to operating a radiocommunications transmitter without authority.

Regulator ACMA brought the action after it discovered Morris was broadcasting a reggae station without a licence into the suburbs of Wollongong.

“The transmitter was operating on 99.4 MHz in the commercial FM broadcast band, with a transmitter output power in the order of 150W,” according to an ACMA spokesperson.

Morris acknowledges what he did was against the law, but says he was serving the needs of a specific community with his broadcasts.

After trying unsuccessfully to get involved with the local community station, then unsuccessfully applying to the ACMA for a licence, Morris took matters into his own hands, getting hold of a transmitter and going to air anyway.

He has told radioinfo about the day his station was raided:

“On the day of the raid I really felt like it was more about protecting the financial investments of commercial license holders than a unlicensed transmission issue.

“The Illawarra region won’t be issued any new licenses and the existing community license holder is not open for the community to access its services and does not program according to the whole demographic of the local region.  I personally experienced this, which frustrated me and led me down the path I chose.

“I truly believe that the youth and the multicultural diversity in our region is not being served at all sufficiently.

“The government enforce and aid the control and monopoly over this so called valuable spectrum.

“I understand the danger of unlicensed broadcasting in the sense of someone spreading hate fear propaganda or political religious beliefs or views. But c’mon its 2016 there’s the internet for that. In that regard I always kept the content ethical and there was no complaints from the ACMA about malicious content.”

When the station was taken off air, Morris’ listeners and facebook fans threw a ‘pirate party’ to raise money for the court defence.

Despite the adverse judgement, Morris wants to keep his station on air one way or another.

“I’m going to continue with IRIE FM online and campaign for the ACMA to allow our request to be heard. Stay tuned to the Facebook page for details on up coming IRIE FM events and updates on the campaign.”

Morris has earned some noteriety for his broadcasting venture. Youth station triple j recently invited him in for a reggae guest spot with Lewi McKirdy and the local paper has also covered his activities.

Wollongong’s IRIE FM is modelled on the successful Jamaican radio station of the same name, based in Kingston town, but has no formal affiliations with the tropical island station in the home of Reggae.


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