Wireless Waffle - A whole spectrum of radio related rubbish
What are the chances (Part II)?signal strength
Tuesday 20 October, 2009, 14:29 - Pirate/Clandestine
Posted by Administrator
A previous article on Wireless Waffle talked about the chances of a pirate radio station being caught focussing on VHF FM pirates. A later one focussed on short-wave pirates and discussed which frequencies to avoid in order to minimise getting the authorities' collective danders up.

Over the past 12 months, both Premier Radio (who used 6265 kHz) and Laser Hot Hits (who used 4025 kHz) have had their transmitter sites raided. Bringing together the ethos of the two previous articles, it would make sense that in order for a raid to be worthwhile, even at short-wave, there would have likely been a complaint raised against the station concerned.

So we might, therefore, ask, "Who raised these complaints?" It seems unlikely that major international broadcasters such as the BBC World Service or China Radio International would be at all threatened by pirate operators taking their audience away or causing interference, especially as the frequencies being used by the pirates are not ones being used by an international broadcaster at the time, so there must be another source of complaints.

Across Europe (and indeed the world) there are a series of short-wave (HF) monitoring stations operated by the various national regulatory administrations who produce quarterly reports on their monitoring activities. The purpose of the monitoring and the associated reports is, on the one hand, to check on legitimate users of the HF spectrum, and on the other to identify use which is in contravention to the ITU's rules on spectrum usage. Where an administration identifies contravening transmissions, it can flag these in the reports and, according to the ITU document describing the reports, these will then be forwarded to the administration which is the source of the transmission.

Looking through these reports for the past 12 months (eg from October 2008 to September 2009), there are a number which relate to various short wave pirates. Specifically:

Date Time (UTC) Freq (kHz) Monitoring Station Transmitter Location Station* Complaint
24 Oct 08 1700-2359 4024.57 Rambouillet, France UK Laser Hot Hits Illegal use of frequency
25 Oct 08 0000-0600 4024.57 Rambouillet, France UK Laser Hot Hits Illegal use of frequency
11 Nov 08 0000-0645 4024.58 Berlin, Germany UK Laser Hot Hits None
5 Dec 08 0204-0400 4024.60 Tarnok, Hungary Not Identified Laser Hot Hits Broadcast in non broadcast band
4 Apr 09 1715-2400 4025.00 Berlin, Germany UK Laser Hot Hits Broadcast in non broadcast band
7 Nov 08 1837-2359 5800.00 Rambouillet, France 8E54 45N29 (Milan, Italy) PLAYBACK INTL Broadcast in non broadcast band
12 Jul 09 0855-1000 5751.51 Rambouillet, France 1W31 51N15 (Andover, UK) Best of British Radio Illegal use of frequency
8 Nov 08 0000-0200 5800.00 Rambouillet, France 8E49 45N23 (Milan, Italy) PLAYBACK INTL Broadcast in non broadcast band
10 Nov 08 2020-2100 5800.00 Tarnok, Hungary Not Identified Playback International Broadcast in non broadcast band
4 Jan 09 1249-1300 5801.00 Vienna, Austria Italy MILANO (Playback International) Broadcast in non broadcast band
24 Oct 08 2215-0000 5803.00 Baldock, UK 8E7 45N56 (Milan, Italy) Playback International None
12 Oct 08 0700-0830 5805.03 Tarnok, Hungary Not Identified Orion Radio Broadcast in non broadcast band
2 Dec 08 1642 6210.00 Baldock, UK Belgium RADIO BORDERHUNTER SW Pirate
12 Apr 09 1345 6202.00 Baldock, UK 8E48 50N15 (Frankfurt, Germany) Crazy Wave Radio Non-Conformity RR.5
15 Feb 09 0949-1120 6219.99 Vienna, Austria Italy MYSTERY RADIO Broadcast in non broadcast band
15 Feb 09 1356-1429 6219.99 Vienna, Austria Italy PLAYBACK Broadcast in non broadcast band
12 Apr 09 1815 6220.00 Baldock, UK 10E0 43N50 (Italy) MYSTERY RADIO Non-Conformity RR.5
9 May 09 1855-1921 6220.00 Vienna, Austria Italy MYSTERY RADIO Broadcast in non broadcast band
11 Jul 09 1935-2300 6220.00 El Casar, Egypt 11E24 44N27 (Bologna, Italy) Mystery Radio None
31 Jul 09 0000-0030 6220.00 Klagenfurt, Austria Pisa, Italy Mystery Radio Broadcast in non broadcast band
6 Jan 09 0105 6240.00 Baldock, UK Netherlands UNDERGROUND RADIO Illicit
17 Feb 09 1654 6240.00 Baldock, UK Netherlands UNDERGROUND RADIO Illicit
5 Jun 09 2340 6420.25 Baldock, UK 4E46 51N38 (Breda, Netherlands) Casanova or Dutchwing? Pirate Station
7 Feb 09 1657 6870.00 Baldock, UK 12E20 42N41 (Terni, Italy) Playback International Non-Conformity RR.5
30 Apr 09 1639 6870.00 Baldock, UK 12E20 42N41 (Terni, Italy) Playback International Non-Conformity RR.5
8 Feb 09 0857-0933 6870.00 Vienna, Austria 9E38 45N41 (Bergamo, Italy) PLAYBACK Broadcast in non broadcast band
22 Mar 09 0956-1429 6870.00 Vienna, Austria Italy PLAYBACK Broadcast in non broadcast band
3 May 09 0845-0940 6870.00 Vienna, Austria Italy PLAYBACK Broadcast in non broadcast band
4 July 09 2001-2017 6870.00 Vienna, Austria Italy PLAYBACK Broadcast in non broadcast band
12 Jul 09 0430-2200 6870.00 Tarnok, Hungary USA (!) PLAYBACK INT. RADIO Broadcast in non broadcast band
14 Feb 09 1425-1443 6878.00 Vienna, Austria Italy PLAYBACK Broadcast in non broadcast band
21 Feb 09 0700-2040 6880.00 Rambouillet, France 9E54 44N42 (Genova, Italy) Playback International Illegal use of frequency
22 Feb 09 0630-0700 6880.00 Rambouillet, France 11E33 44N21 (Bologna, Italy) Playback International Illegal use of frequency
4 Oct 08 2000-2100 6925.00 Rambouillet, France 20E32 39N4 (Greece) Spider Radio Illegal use of frequency
26 Jul 09 0000-1700 7550.00 Tarnok, Hungary Italy Radio Amica Broadcast in non broadcast band
29 Aug 09 0620-0700 7550.00 El Casar, Egypt Italy Radio Amica None
29 Aug 09 0600-0630 7550.00 Klagenfurt, Austria Italy Radio Amica Broadcast in non broadcast band
18 Feb 09 1218-1220 9385.00 CRMO, South Korea Ireland LASER HOT HITS Illegal use of frequency
19 Feb 09 1606-1607 9385.00 CRMO, South Korea Not Identified Laser Hot Hits Illegal use of frequency
28 Feb 09 1130-1300 9385.00 Tarnok, Hungary Not Identified Laser Hot Hits Broadcast in non broadcast band

* Where the station was identified in the monitoring report, it is shown in CAPITALS.

Where no name was given, it has been identified and added in by searching through various on-line logs from the date concerned.

In addition to the above there are one or two other unidentified broadcasts on typical pirate frequencies (eg 6447 kHz on 21 August 2009) but there does not seem to be any indication of who they might be (nor do logs help with this).

Clearly there has been a lot of monitoring of Laser Hot Hits going on by various administrations (Laser may be impressed that they were heard in South Korea!) Similarly Mystery Radio and Playback International have also been heavily monitored though the grid references given for their locations seems to vary quite a lot. rambouillet monitoring stationThese stations operate over long periods, usually at weekends but outside these times too, so it is perhaps not surprising that they have been 'caught'. A more interesting question might be why other stations have been monitored. Was it a chance happening by the administration concerned, or are the frequencies they are using of particular interest to that country?

There are many more questions that these logs raise: How many 'complaints' are necessary before action is taken? Are the locations produced sufficiently accurate to find the transmitters or are other methods necessary? Do the various monitoring stations co-operate to improve the accuracy of locations? Is there a competition between stations and administrations to show how 'bad' their neighbours are being (eg UK complaining about France and France complaining about UK). And perhaps, most importantly, how come Mystery and Playback are still on air?!
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