Ofcom to investigate radio station that retained disaster appeal funds for five years

Broadcasting watchdog will examine whether Sunrise Radio misled its audience after the Charity Commission criticised its delay in applying money raised

Radio station is being investigated
Radio station is being investigated

The broadcasting watchdog Ofcom has launched an investigation into a London-based Asian radio station after it held on for more than five years to funds raised for those affected by the 2004 tsunami and the 2005 Pakistan earthquake.

A spokesman for Ofcom said it launched its investigation into Sunrise Radio after the Charity Commission "drew their attention to the case".

The commission last month published the findings of its investigation into two appeals run by the radio station, during which it asked listeners to make donations in response to the two disasters.

The commission’s report said the bank account set up by the radio station in January 2005 to hold the donations contained more than £181,000, which included interest that had accrued since 2005.

The Ofcom spokesman said: "If a broadcaster has a competition or charity appeal and if they are misleading the audience, it’s something we could look into. We are looking at whether the station’s audience was materially misled."

Avtar Lit, chairman and chief executive of Sunrise Radio, told Third Sector he disagreed with the Charity Commission’s report and that there was nothing for Ofcom to investigate.

He said the money was retained for so long because Sunrise Radio was a "cautious company".

"Our job is to ensure it goes to the project it’s supposed to," he said. "There needs to be a paper trail of what happens with the money."

Lit said the money had been given six months ago to two charities, the British Asian Trust and Sightsavers. The British Asian Trust confirmed that it received £100,000.

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