Student radio station Oxygen has been fined £20,000 for trying to fool the Radio Authority over its broadcasts.

The station, based in the Westgate Centre, Oxford, has also had its eight-year licence cut short by two years.

The official regulator imposed its heaviest-ever sanctions after Oxygen:

* Made up programmes;

* Broadcast on one day and pretended it was another; and

* Broke the terms of its licence, showing "shocking disrespect for its listeners".

The Radio Authority received a complaint that the station wasn't keeping to its format. When it asked for a tape of the station's output for March 1, it was told tapes were not available. Staff at the station then broadcast on March 8 as though it was March 1.

When the authority then asked for a tape of March 8, it was sent the March 15 output, labelled as March 8.

Authority chairman Sir Peter Gibbings said: "Oxygen 107.9fm has shown shocking disrespect for its listeners as part of an attempt to deceive its regulator.

Jerry Halford, Oxygen's managing director, said he was disappointed at the authority's "substantial sanctions".

He added: "On this occasion, young staff at a small station clearly made a serious error of judgement. The breaches of the licence occurred without the knowledge of the board, Dawe Media Ltd and the trustees of the station.

"Oxygen 107.9fm has now put in place a new management team and is confident, given time, it can satisfy the authority that the notice to shorten the licence period by two years may be revoked."

Story date: Tuesday 07 September

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